Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton

Charlie and Buster were two of the best screen comedians ever to walk the earth. They both had similar upbringings. Buster and his family in American vaudeville. Charlie worked in British music halls. Charlie rose to stardom in silent movies in the 1910’s beginning with Keystone, Mutual (where he made his best short comedies)  Essanay and then he confounded United Artist with Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and W. D. Griffith. After that Charlie went into full feature films.

Buster started silent shorts in 1917 with Roscoe Arbuckle. After Roscoe broke out on his own so did Buster….he did some more short films which were brilliant. He then went into full features. Buster was just so different than anyone else. He was so still while the world moved in chaos around him. He was a brilliant actor-director and also writer which he often didn’t take credit for doing. If Buster would have just made “The General” his place in film history would be cemented. The same can be said of Charlie Chaplin and his masterpiece “The Gold Rush.”

There was no competition between the two in popularity. Charlie won hands down over Buster and probably everyone else in comedy and drama. His character “The Tramp” was internationally loved. All in all Keaton was a better film maker. They were two different comedians. Chaplin would reach for pathos…sometimes a little too much. Keaton seemed much more real. Keaton’s site gags were incredible and sometimes dangerous to his health…like have a front of a building that weighed a ton (so it wouldn’t twist in the wind) fall on him with the upstairs opening clearing him around 2 inches on each side. He never smiled because it would have ruined his character. Both are worth watching and with Keaton’s films like Sherlock Jr…you wonder how he did some of the things he did with the primitive camera’s they used.

Both were funny men. The other big comedian was Harold Lloyd but he was more of an actor playing a comedian….he was really successful though… second to Chaplin in making money.

 

 

Charlie and Buster older both appear in Charlie’s Limelight.

If you could have dinner with 5 people dead or still living…who would they be?

Mine are pretty shallow sounding vs what some people would say like Lincoln, Washington… Nope…no politicians, generals, or leaders…

1: John Lennon – He could be a walking contradiction but so are a lot of British rock stars but he was very intelligent and a superb songwriter. He loved to shock at times but could be very warm, generous and very honest. After he was shot his legend made him out to be some saint…he would have been the first to say he was not one….he didn’t suffer fools well. I remember when I was 13 and I heard about the shooting. The guy that shot him…I won’t mention his name is kept from the other prisoners for safety reasons. John had already signed a document saying he would get together with the other Beatles for what turned out to be the Anthology. At the time it was called The Long and Winding Road.

2: Keith Moon – I would prepare myself and sleep for as long as possible the day before and then take off and hang out with Keith for a little while.

3: Babe Ruth – What a guy… To me the best baseball player period…there is no one close. He was the best all around player…Not only was he one of the best power hitters he was also a great left handed pitcher….I would love to talk to him…get some dogs and beer and enjoy my time with the Babe.

4: Harpo Marx – The Marx brother that is my favorite. I would plead and recommend that you would read Harpo Speaks  ….It is the best autobiography  I have ever read. I’ve read it at least 8 times. I have worn out two copies. Yes Groucho is better known but Harpo was one of the most decent guys you could ever be around…he also hung out with the Algonquin round table crowd in the 1920s with writers Alexander Woolcott, brilliant playwright George Kaufman and many more. Harpo came from a very poor family at the turn of the century and he came to know some of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century.

5: Buster Keaton – Probably one of the best film makers of the 20th century. He gets over shadowed by Charlie Chaplin. That is not a knock on Chaplin but Keaton not only was a great screen comedian but the better film maker out of the two.

 

Honorable Mention

The two that I hated to leave out but one of the these two could substitute if two of the ones mentioned above could not show up.

Clara Bow – My favorite actress hands down. The original and the only IT girl and could say more with her actions than anyone else with words…she lit up the screen.

Keith Richards – The only living member of my wish list (though some would argue that fact) Keith is just cool period. If I had to describe rock and roll to an alien… I would hand them a copy of Brown Sugar and a picture of a 1972 Keith Richards…. I love that he has survived….God Bless you Keith.