Program 1: Buster Keaton

One Week
involves two newlyweds played by Buster Keaton and Sybil Seely, who receive a build-it-yourself house as a wedding gift. According to the written instructions the house can be built in one week. However, a rejected suitor secretly re-numbers the packing crates. The movie recounts Keaton’s struggle to assemble the house according to this new “arrangement” of numbered boxes. The end result, as depicted in the picture, is hilariously funny. As if this were not enough, Keaton finds he has built his house on the wrong site and has to move it across the railway tracks with predictable consequences. One Week was one of Keaton’s earliest short films.

Scene from One Week

Cops is a 1922 two-reel silent comedy about a young man, played by Buster Keaton, who accidentally gets on the wrong side of the entire Los Angeles Police Department.  One of Keaton’s most brilliant short films, Cops tells the story of a simple young man who is in love with the daughter of the local mayor. At the beginning of the film she tells him she will not marry him until he becomes a successful and wealthy businessman. He then tries to become wealthy and successful but only manages to get caught up in multiple errors of judgement and disasters. It seems he cannot win, no matter how inventively he tries. He eventually gets into various scraps with hundreds of officers of the Los Angeles Police Department who chase him all over town. He eventually is caught and willingly goes to gaol for his crimes.

Cops is one of Keaton’s most iconic and brilliantly-constructed short films.

Scene from Cops

The Navigator Rollo Treadway and Betsy O’Brien are neighbours who live in ‘wealthy houses’ on opposite sides of the same street. At the beginning of the film the young Rollo suddenly decides he’d like to marry Betsy. She rejects him, but through a series of rapidly unfolding misadventures, the two youngsters end up adrift on an ocean liner, the Navigator.

While the ship drifts on the high seas the couple get to know one another. Initially, they have great difficulty looking after themselves (being from wealthy families, they had servants to do everything for them), but adapt after a few weeks.

Finally, the ship grounds itself near an inhabited tropical island and springs a leak. While Rollo dons a deep-sea diving suit and submerges to patch the hole, the natives paddle to the ship and take Betsy captive. Rollo manages to dramatically rescue Betsy and the couple return to the ship. The natives chase them and try to board the Navigator. After a fierce struggle, Rollo and Betsy escape in a small dinghy. When it starts to sink, and the natives are about to overtake them in their canoes, a navy submarine surfaces right underneath them and they are saved.

Scene from The Navigator

Saturday March 30th – An evening with Buster Keaton

Venue: Kangaroo Valley Community Hall, Moss Vale Road, Kangaroo Valley 2577

One Week 23 mins
Cops 22 mins
The Navigator 58 mins