A Horse of a Different Colour

I found another short directed by Buster Keaton at MGM (the first can be seen HERE). The little musicals he made are quite nice — in another universe one can imagine him working his way up the ranks as a jobbing director rather than as a jobbing actor, after the decline of his Hollywood stardom.

Of course, this lightweight thing doesn’t compare to the shorts he co-directed in the silent era, and it’s not quite as good as its companion film, STREAMLINED SWING, but it’s charming enough. The racial jokes aren’t too offensive (there are worse in SEVEN CHANCES and COLLEGE, and in the title of this post) and the Hollywood cameos are diverting — the best being Cliff “Ukelele Ike” Edwards early on, the most evocative being Oliver Hardy. But “Babe” is part of a montage of stars captured in off-the-cuff, verité fashion, at the racetrack, maybe not even by Buster.

I’m also tickled to see Buster using the character name “Canfield” again. He’d used it as his character name in STEAMBOAT BILL JNR , and as the rival feuding family’s name in OUR HOSPITALITY. This third occurrence clinches SOMETHING — either the name had some personal significance for Buster, or it was just a lucky name, like Billy Wilder’s “Sheldrake”. Whatever the secret, the name’s inclusion strongly suggests that Buster not only directed but wrote or co-wrote, uncredited, this little item.

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8 Responses to “A Horse of a Different Colour”

  1. Interesting that this Louis Lewyn production has a good number of MGM players, a lot of his shorts don’t. I watched the Lewyn-produced Star Night At The Cocoanut Grove the other day and I swear I didn’t see a single MGM star, even though it’s an MGM short.

  2. Just about all those people had MGM ties, didn’t they? I wasn’t counting, but it seemed like a lot did, as if the movie was partly intended to promote the MGM galaxy.

  3. judydean Says:

    I just noticed that the screenplay for Streamlined Swing is by Marion Mack, Buster’s co-star in The General.

    I think you’re right about Canfield not having any personal significance for Buster, and was just a lucky name – in the same way that Elmer was an unlucky name.

  4. I certainly don’t recall any reference to Canfields in Buster’s various biographies, and he does seem like the kind of guy who WOULD have a lucky name.

    No idea how Marion Mack got into screenwriting — presumably Buster got her the job.

  5. Jockey Jane Says:

    I live just a couple of blocks south of Santa Anita Race Track.The walking ring,and,paddock look the same as in the video. What is eye catching to me is the open large tree filled
    land surrounding Santa Anita Race Track. The spot where the
    people are eating ribs,in the background,there is a white fenced training
    track. I believe,this is the place the Westfield Mall,is located.Corner of Huntington Drive and Baldwin Ave. I have
    been collecting quite a lot of history information of Arcadia,Ca.

  6. Thanks! I always like to hear about the places films were shot, and how they’ve changed. There’s been a lot of study of locations in Buster Keaton’s more famous movies.

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