The Cameraman (1928, Edward Sedgwick)

Buster Keaton’s first film for MGM, and “first film BK made with a prepared script”. Silent. Unbelievably highly rated considering how lame it seemed to me.

Keaton costars with Marceline Day (60+ movies in a decade, stopped acting in ’33, lived till 2000). This is only a year after Sherlock Jr., The General and College, and just a few years before his career had completely devolved into junk like What, No Beer?. The beginning of the end for Buster!

So he “acts” in this one… he has facial reactions, falls in love, looks angry and sad and everything. No more blank faced humor. Scene in a pool changing room that was so long and obvious I started looking at the records on the wall instead of the movie. All sorts of trouble.

Keaton is a “tintype” photographer, charging for portraits on the street, when he meets M. Day. He follows her to the newsreel office where she works, trades in the tintype for an expensive (for him) ol’ beat-up movie camera. Tries to be johnny on the spot with the news, but can’t compete with the big fellas. So Day gives Buster a tip on the Chinatown riots, which Buster covers himself in the only great scene… putting himself in mortal danger with his accidentally acquired new pet monkey sometimes running the camera, making it all the funnier when the news fellas later see the footage and declare it the best camera work they’d ever seen. But first Buster has to be sadly disgraced and lose his girl to a showoffy strongman then he has to disgrace the strongman via a daring speedboat rescue, regaining the girl and securing a job at the news place. And everyone is happy except for the strongman (no girl, probably no job) and me (only two funny scenes, Buster losing his distinctive personality with no apparent gains). Not a waste of time or anything, don’t recommend against it, just sorta personally disappointing.

Sign on the door: “Ladie’s dressing rooms”