Monday, January 12, 2009

Comedy: One Week (1920, Edward F Cline, Buster Keaton)

One Week (1920)
USA, 19 min
Written by: Edward F. Cline (story & screenplay), Buster Keaton (story & screenplay)

One Week (1920) was the first of Buster Keaton's independent two-reelers, though The High Sign (1921) was filmed first and shelved until the following year. The story starts out where most romantic comedies end: with a picturesque wedding ceremony, during which adoring relatives toss confetti and, oddly, second-hand footwear. The lucky groom (Keaton) and his bride (Sybil Seely) strike out for their new home, purchased by a well-meaning uncle. Of course, only in a Keaton short must the husband and wife construct their own house, utilising a do-it-yourself kit that goes awry when the bride's former lover switches the numbers around. The resultant dwelling would not have looked out of place in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), though Keaton is evidently proud of his handiwork, and is thus prepared to overlook the most minor of blunders (such as having the front door on the second-floor). This short served as a trial-run of sorts for the feature Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928), for here we see an early version of Keaton's famous "saved-by-the-window" falling wall stunt.

One Week is one of Keaton's finest shorts, with no shortage of imagination, and a continuous string of episodic gags. In one scene, our hero rather coarsely knocks out a traffic policeman, and it's probably no coincidence that the victim is a Charles Chaplin-lookalike. Many of the Keaton's films utilise aspects of engineering, such as The Electric House (1922), in which the actor is commissioned to update a client's home with state-of-the-art technology. In One Week, the product of Keaton's labours doesn't appear quite so impressive, though the house does misbehave is equally hilarious ways. In a vigorous windstorm, the entire building is transformed into a deliriously-spinning carousel, the inhabitants thrown across the room with almost brutal centrifugal force. Leading lady Sybil Seely impressively keeps up with Keaton's comedic antics, even contributing a few laughs of her own, rather than serving only as a beautiful romantic interest. Not that Seely didn't have the "beautiful" aspect covered, the film's show-stopping moment seeing the actress drop her bar of soap while bathing in the tub. A modest cameraman's hand spares us the details, however.


  1. Hehe, I actually just watched this short today and was going to review it, but I guess I'll have to find another one instead. See how copy and paste tactics can be aggrevating. ;)

  2. Actually, I watched this one just last week, so it's sort of legit!
    Try reviewing "The High Sign (1921)" then. That's a good'un.

  3. I haven't seen The High Sign, so I'll get to it soon. Actually, I've been watching several Keaton shorts lately, so I'll have plenty to choose from.

  4. Extremely enjoyable, but my favorite Keaton short remains to be Neighbors.


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