Buster Keaton's recurring deadpan character is one of the great icons of silent comedy, rivaled only by Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp and Harold Lloyd's bumbling, bespectacled hustler. Keaton was the most rigorously physical comedian of the three, wholly committed to the formalism of chase scenes and pratfalls over plot and character. But he also delivered a profoundly modern sense of despair with his laughs; in his LIFE magazine profile of the stone-faced Keaton, James Agee described the emotional resonance of Keaton's work as a freezing whisper not of pathos but of melancholia.
Experience the melancholia yourself when the Webster Film Series presents Kompletely Keaton, a month of Keaton's best features including Sherlock Jr., The General and The Cameraman each screened with live musical accompaniment and paired with a different Keaton short subject. The series kicks off at 8 p.m. Friday, September 28, with Three Ages, Keaton's 1923 parody of D.W. Griffith's epic Intolerance. Three Ages depicts Keaton and Wallace Beery pursuing the same woman from the Stone Age through ancient Rome and into the Roaring Twenties in parallel storylines; Cops is the evenings short. The Steven Schenkel and Paul DeMarinis Trio provide the soundtrack, and tickets are $5 to $6. All films are shown in the Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; 314-968-7487), and special passes are available in six- and eleven-film packages. For the full schedule and other details, visit www.webster.edu/filmseries.
Fri., Sept. 28, 2007