One of my writing specialties is silent cinema. It’s actually one of the great loves of my life, and so is Buster Keaton. Last night, The Chef and I had the rare treat of seeing Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) on the big screen. The show was held in the ballroom of the stunning Cincinnati Music Hall. Clark Wilson provided musical accompaniment on the Hall’s restored “The Mighty Wurlitzer”. This is my favourite Keaton production. I have watched it at least 20 times, but always in the privacy of my home. The joy of experiencing a silent movie whilst surrounded by hundreds of spontaneously laughing people seeing it for the first time is energetic and awe-inspiring. Buster, who made his film debut 96 years ago, would certainly be proud and humbled. It was a wonderful evening to be a cinema buff and writer.
“The first thing I did in the studio was to want to tear that camera to pieces. I had to know how that film got into the cutting room, what you did to it in there, how you projected it, how you finally got the picture together, how you made things match. The technical part of pictures is what interested me. Material was the last thing in the world I thought about. You only had to turn me loose on the set and I’d have material in two minutes, because I’d been doing it all my life.”-Buster Keaton