The Cameraman

1928

Comedy / Drama / Family / Romance

143
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 100%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 94%
IMDb Rating 8.1 10 9,788

Synopsis


Downloaded times
July 17, 2020

Director

Cast

Buster Keaton as Buster Luke Shannon
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
647.16 MB
1280*720
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
76 min
P/S N/A / N/A
1.17 GB
1920×1080
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
76 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by django-1 9 / 10 / 10

Keaton's first film for MGM retains many of the best qualities of his earlier works

Seeing THE CAMERAMAN for the first time in pristine condition (thanks to TCM) and with a wonderful musical score to keep the pace going for the audience members not used to a steady diet of silent films, I was quite surprised. While THE CAMERAMAN does not really feature any incredible or death-defying stunts, there are a number of set pieces that provide exciting humor (the staircase sequence, for instance), and also some hilarious situations such as when he loses his bathing suit at the "municipal plunge" or when he has to protect his camera from the attackers during the tong war. Thankfully, MGM had not yet put Keaton in films that did not fit his established persona (SIDEWALKS OF NEW YORK) or that did not take advantage of his particular comic gifts (FREE AND EASY). Keaton is wonderful throughout, charismatic, sympathetic, agile. Marceline Day is a charming female lead and actually makes a three-dimensional character out of what could have been a superficial role in other hands. She continued working into the sound era until the mid-30s, but wound up in poverty-row features (see my review of SUNNY SKIES, where she is teamed with Rex Lease and Benny Rubin), many of which I've really enjoyed over the years (MYSTERY TRAIN with Hedda Hopper, the pioneering women-in-war film FORGOTTEN WOMEN/THE MAD PARADE, the VD classic DAMAGED LIVES, the outrageous camp classic THE FLAMING SIGNAL with Noah Beery, Henry B. Walthall, and Flash the dog, and the superb urban melodrama BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. The multi-talented Harry Gribbon, who began working for Mack Sennett in the teens, is well-used as the omnipresent cop who happens to be wherever Buster is doing something that looks fishy out of its proper context. I've been watching some of his sound comedy shorts recently such as RURAL ROMEOS and BIG HEATED, and he was superb as an arrogant bluffer, was a master of mugging and physical comedy, and even sang well in ROMEOS. Overall, THE CAMERAMAN is well worth watching and shows that initially Keaton was able to work well within MGM's system. Things began to slip with his next MGM feature, SPITE MARRIAGE, although many of the MGM features have something worthwhile in them (see my review of WHAT NO BEER, his last, and often considered his worst). With the recent attention given to the MGM films, I think I'll watch some of them again. From my memories of watching them about a decade ago, I remember DOUGHBOYS as being the least funny and most labored.

Reviewed by imogensara_smith 10 / 10 / 10

Keaton's last masterpiece, and a glimpse of what might have been

THE CAMERAMAN is, in a way, Buster Keaton's most heartbreaking movie. It shows what could have been, if only MGM had left him alone. Keaton had made all of his great films at an independent studio where he had total control over his work. With the help of a hand-picked creative team, he wrote, directed, designed and starred in his movies, not to mention doing all his own stunts. Buster always left himself room to improvise and revise during filming, sometimes incorporating accidents into the development of new gags. He gave little thought to financial matters; he believed in doing things right, whatever the cost in money, time or physical hardship. In 1928, Keaton's producer Joseph Schenck dissolved his studio and turned him over to MGM, the biggest, richest, and most authoritarian of the major studios. Keaton went reluctantly, feeling he had no choice. At first, the situation didn't look too bad. For his first MGM film, THE CAMERAMAN, he kept most of his creative team, and provided the idea for the story. It had the element he considered most important: simplicity. He would play a street photographer who, smitten with a receptionist at a newsreel company, strives to become a newsreel cameraman. MGM took this idea and sent it to their writers, who complicated it with subplots, extraneous characters and needless plot twists. The studio also dispatched Keaton to film on location in New York. Frustrated by the crowds that interfered with filming, by a script he disliked, and by conflicts with his director, Keaton pleaded with Irving Thalberg to let him edit the script and shoot the rest of the film in Los Angeles. To his everlasting credit, Thalberg agreed, and director Ed Sedgwick also came around the Buster's way of working. As a result, THE CAMERAMAN became a Keaton masterpiece, one of his most mature, satisfying, and hilarious films. Not surprisingly, some of the funniest and most inspired moments were not in the script but were improvised by Buster during filming: when he pantomimes a baseball game in Yankee Stadium, when he calmly demolishes his room in an effort to open his piggy bank, and when he attempts to change into a swimsuit in a small cubicle shared with an irascible fat man. But the level of inspiration is consistently high throughout the film. There's a beautiful sequence in which Buster runs up and down a staircase (filmed smoothly from an elevator), anticipating a phone call from his beloved Sally. When he finally gets the call, he drops the receiver and races through the city streets (in fact, Manhattan's 5th Avenue) to arrive at her house before she has hung up. There's a nightmarishly funny scene in which he loses his over-sized swimsuit in a public pool, and swims around with only his alarmed and desperate eyes above water. For the last third of the movie, there's the marvelous Josephine, an organ grinder's monkey who becomes Buster's troublesome sidekick. Not only is she one of the best animal performers you'll ever see, she's a better actor than some humans who appeared in silent movies. It's a delight to watch her riding around on Buster's shoulder, scampering up and down his body, and embracing his great stone face with her tiny hands. THE CAMERAMAN reflects Buster's fascination with film-making and the mechanics of the camera. His character's clumsy initial efforts are a textbook of film-making mistakes. There is an appropriately spectacular finale in which Buster films a Tong war in Chinatown, imperturbable amid the swirling riot of violence. There's the most poignant moment in any Keaton film, when Buster, having rescued Sally from a boat wreck and rushed off to get aid, returns to the beach to find his rival has taken credit for the rescue and won her gratitude. His posture of utter defeat is almost unbearable, and his ultimate vindication is truly gratifying. The romance in THE CAMERAMAN is more fully developed than in most of Keaton's films; Sally is played by the exceptionally pretty Marceline Day, and unlike Buster's often prickly love interests she is unfailingly sweet and supportive. They meet when a passing parade pushes them together in a crowd, and Buster, finding his face in Marceline's hair, shuts his eyes in swooning bliss. Already we can see Buster's character shading towards the more sentimental, "sad clown" type that MGM later forced on him. But in THE CAMERAMAN he's still stoic and ingenious, and his performance is incredibly subtle and expressive, every motion fine-tuned to perfection. I appreciated this performance all the more when I recently watched Turner Classic Movie's new DVD release. The picture quality was so much better than the old battered video print that I felt I'd never seen the film before. Alas, the print is no more complete than earlier versions. Portions have been lost to wear and tear because MGM—delighted with the film's success—played their print over and over, using it as a training film for new comedians. The savage irony is that the lesson the studio drew from this was not that Keaton did, in fact, work best when given freedom, but that Keaton was better than ever under their control. They would never again allow him such independence, and his films would rapidly deteriorate in quality. But don't think about this while you're watching THE CAMERAMAN, just enjoy one of the most elegant and perfect romantic comedies ever made.

Reviewed by Igenlode Wordsmith 10 / 10 / 10

At last, perfection

I loved this film. I don't give 10/10 marks lightly; I rarely give them at all. For a film to rate that highly, it must be compelling, enthralling, enchanting, a technical tour-de-force -- it must make my heart soar and tear it with pity, and leave me shaken and laughing and crying all at once -- never put a foot wrong or lose my interest for a moment... but above all, it must endure. It must be a candidate for the shelf of the classics, to stand in its own right among all others and hold its own. A tall order for a little comedy, you might think, even with the irreplaceable imagination and grace of Buster Keaton on both sides of the camera. But for me this is the one: his last great film, his swansong perhaps, but the one that is perfection. This is the 'perfect melding of story and humour' I dreamed would lie ahead, back when I reviewed "The General", and here they are ideally intertwined. In places it is very, very funny, on a level his feature length films arrive at far more seldom than his shorts, but it also has a fully-developed and satisfying narrative curve along timeless lines, underpinned and yet not undermined by Keaton's wry trademark lack of sentiment: virtue is rewarded, villainy confounded, and the underdog is recognised and wins through. The leading lady is no mere cipher to which to aspire, but a warm girl who believes in the hero all along and gives him his vital 'break'. The unfortunate encounter with the organ-grinder's monkey -- Buster's best ever animal co-star! -- proves not simply a one-off gag, but key to the plot; and it is this sort of coherence that gives the film as a whole its beautiful sense of shape. The story itself is very simple, almost episodic, compared to some of Keaton's wilder offerings: boy loves girl, boy sets out day after day to prove himself and find his dream, as events conspire to frustrate him. But everything ties back. The ending echoes the beginning and every scene counts along the way, as the relationships between the principals evolve. There's even an unmissable 'singing in the rain' sequence that must surely -- surely! -- have been an influence on Gene Kelly's famous rapture of delight (and encounter with bemused policeman); the echoes are so close... There are no great set-piece stunts and chases to take over the screen and dominate the plot, as in "Seven Chances" or "The General"; but much as I love Buster's breathtaking skills and endless acrobatic agility, I think the film actually benefits by the more integrated style. There are chases -- there are stunts -- there are classic sight gags, long-running situational humour, bittersweet instants and sheer belly laughs -- but none of them ever sideline the impetus of the character-based action. This film quite simply has *everything*, and that's why even among Keaton's work it stands out. Buster Keaton, meanwhile, is in top form, playing perhaps the most fully-realized of his various romantic dreamers: the little street photographer with his hard-saved nest egg, ten cents a time, who longs to become a daredevil cameraman capturing the breaking news. This is classic Keaton: the fascination and frustration with machinery, the ingenuity applied and misapplied, the beauty of face and body that can express an entire universe without words, the flights of fancy and the inevitable falls. Buster could, notoriously, "run like a jack-rabbit" for all his small size, and here his speed as well as his famous frozen poise are put to memorable use. His comic timing and inventiveness have never been better: the swimming-pool scene, harking all the way back to Arbuckle's "Coney Island" but with far greater sophistication and development, is truly hilarious and had the audience, almost crying with laughter, eating out of the palm of his hand. (The scene where, carried away by the hallowed stadium turf, he plays out an entire baseball game in his own head single-handed -- still very funny even to the English -- would doubtless have gone down a complete storm with US cinema-goers more familiar with the rules of the sport...) And yet, as always, he is not merely playing for laughs, but acting to effect. We feel for the character; rejoice with him, ache for him, applaud his resource and chuckle with sympathy over his mistakes. In a couple of his shorts, where he deliberately subverts the conventions of melodrama, he demonstrates the all-out poses of classic theatrical mime -- heartbreak, horror, despair -- with spot-on accuracy. Here, we see his own more subtle and naturalistic style. Buster had no time for high drama, but he was a player in full command of his craft, and he can create a moment's shading of emotion with the tiniest shift of face or body, and those eloquent, ever-expressive eyes. He is a master, and for me this is perhaps his masterpiece. It's one of the films I've enjoyed most in my entire life; silent cinema in its full maturity and comedy at its timeless best. I was swept away. After seeing this I was ready to go down on my knees and worship Keaton; all I can do is hymn him in words. If he were never again to be allowed to do anything on this creative level -- and arguably, he never was -- then this would still be a final great flowering of a unique art and vision, films that still draw crowds today... but above all perform, as perfectly as when they were first printed, all that Buster Keaton ever set out to do. These are not museum pieces or cultural artifacts of a dead age. They are, as they were created to be, cinematic works of supreme entertainment.

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