Archive for July 20, 2010

Quick Change Artist

Posted in FILM with tags , , on July 20, 2010 by dcairns

There are a number of good bits in LE ROI DES CHAMPS-ELYSEES, the film Buster Keaton made in France after his MGM contract was cancelled. Keaton was dismissive of the film, made at a low ebb, but he’s good in it, and while the plot is a string of loosely-connected rubbish, Keaton gets to produce visual gags in just about every scene he’s in, a pleasing contrast to the sentiment and verbiage of the MGM talkies.

In the above sequence, two Keatons meet in a revolving door. Buster, an actor playing a convict, has been mistaken for a real American gangster who just busted out of the French Sing-Sing (Chant-Chant? Sounds so much nicer!). Here, the bad Keaton arrives and enters his lair via a concealed panel, causing good Keaton, who was leaning against the wall inside, to exit. What’s impressive and delightful is that the transition is done without special effects or jump cuts — Keaton enters, ducks around the door during the second when he’s off-camera, and re-enters playing his other character.

I’ll have more to say about this minor but somewhat enjoyable thing when I get done flying the Atlantic.