Scen.: Buster Keaton, Edward F. Cline. F.: Elgin Lessley. M.: Buster Keaton. Scgf.: Fred Gabourie. Int.: Buster Keaton (the husband), Kate Price (the wife), Monte Collins (the father-in-law), Joe Roberts, Tom Wilson, Harry Madison, Wheezer Dell (the wife’s brothers). Prod.: Joseph M. Schenck. DCP. D.: 24’. Bn.
In My Wife’s Relations, Buster Keaton has achieved comedy, pungent, vulgar comedy, wherein the vulgarity has vital power, the nutriment of first-rate Roquefort cheese. […]
Here is vulgarity, working-class vulgarity, people of bad manners, as the phrase goes, people whose behavior is far from such, beyond words, without pedigree, except among the animals of the barns and the health that goes with what Ezra Pound calls “the unkillable infants of the poor”.
A little like Frank Norris’ McTeague, people are the dummies, mummies and rummies that shamble, scramble and slide on their bottom ends across the flickers of this picture.
This is the nearest approach this reviewer has witnessed to the master handling of Charles Chaplin in presentation of human comics, with massive overtones and rapid implications. There will be those saying Charlie is a little schoolmaster showing them how to better find themselves in the pantomimic art science of the cinema. And there will be others who say otherwise.
The main point is that Buster Keaton’s My Wife’s Relations is a hummer of a comic two reeler.
Carl Sandburg, The Movies Are: Carl Sandburg’s Film Reviews and Essays 1920-1928,
Lake Claremont Press, Chicago 2000
Restored in 2018 by Cineteca di Bologna in collaboration with Cohen Film Collection at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory.
For the restoration of My Wife’s Relations six elements from the Cohen Film Collection were inspected, digitised and compared. No differences in the film editing were detected during comparison. A 2nd generation dupe negative (PDN_50028) was used as main element for the restoration despite the lack of original end title and intertitles which were replaced using another 2nd generation dupe negative (PDN_TITLES_2186). The film title was reconstructed according to the style of films from the same time period and same distributor. Finally, the restoration used a fragment (roughly 60 ft) of a diacetate print struck from the original camera negative part of the Lobster Films’ Collection and featuring the film’s original ending.