Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list.
dir. Buster Keaton scr. Clyde Bruckman, Jean Havez, Joseph A. Mitchell cin. Byron Bouck, Elgin Lessley with Buster Keaton, T. Roy Barnes, Snitz Edwards
In 100 words: The greatest comedy is a silent movie made in the 1920s made by one of its most distinguished artists. Keaton’s unfathomable genius and inventiveness shines through in this movie that’s so daring and reckless, that one can feel an unexpected jolt of thrill, a tinge of suspense, and a lot of humor and relief from watching him go through one crazy stunt after another. He’s so committed physically even as his magnificent face retains its trademark deadpan. Hilarious from start to finish, but the second half is particularly stunning, especially the centerpiece chase–the most perfect comic set piece ever.
Other Movies for Context: Unmatched excellence in physical comedy and deadpan wit. Interestingly, I think of Jackie Chan, who, like Keaton, crafted laugh after laugh out of the most dangerous stunts (and even broke bones because of them!). I think of Drunken Master (1978), Rumble in the Bronx (1995), and Rush Hour (1998).