Cinema Lumiere - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni > 14:30

Neighbors/The Goat

Buster Keaton, Eddie Cline/Buster Keaton, Mal St. Clair
Introduced by

Cecilia Cenciarelli e Tim Lanza

Piano accompaniment by

Gabriel Thibaudeau


Friday 30/06/2017


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Keaton understood how the eye works; ideas came to him as pictures. No other comedian – and few filmmakers – ever did so much with mise-en-scène, placement in space. In Neighbors, a fence and a clothesline are all he needs to create an extended comic ballet: the two lines bisecting the screen are like the melody on which a jazz musician improvises. They divide and connect two warring households, and he moves back and forth, over and under and through, experimenting with every form of motion the set-up allows. When Buster looked at the world, he must have seen a mechanical diagram – arrows, trajectories, the gears inside things turning – all instantaneously, as if he had X-ray vision for the laws of physics. In his world objects overlap, slide past each other, converge and separate as if they moved on rails. His own movements and mannerisms have the same uncanny accuracy, what Walter Kerr called his “rectitude – mathematical, spiritual”. Spirituality aside, it comes from his meticulous control of his body and the precision of his timing.
Imogen Sara Smith, Buster Keaton: The Persistence of Comedy, Gambit Publishing, Chicago 2008

For the restoration of Neighbors nine elements were inspected and analyzed: seven of those – from the Cohen Film Collection, The Library of Congress, the Cinémathèque de Toulouse and the Filmoteca de Catalunya – were digitized and compared. Two elements were finally selected for reconstruction: the original nitrate negative and a second generation nitrate duplicate negative both held at the Library of Congress and scanned at 4K resolution. The duplicate negative was used for reel 1 – missing completely from the negative – and to replace portions of the negative so severely affected by chemical decay as to compromise the intelligibility of the image. Through digital restoration, we tried to homogenize, as much as possible, the two elements in terms of grading and grain level.

Cast and Credits

F.: Elgin Lessley. Int.: Buster Keaton (il ragazzo), Virginia Fox (la ragazza), Joe Keaton (il padre del ragazzo), Joe Roberts (il padre della ragazza), Eddie Cline (il poliziotto), James Duffy (il giudice), The Flying Escalantes. Prod.: Joseph M. Schenck per Comique Film Corporation. DCP. D.: 18’. Bn.


Film Notes

I first heard about Buster Keaton from my grandmother, who was also of the opinion that he was the funniest of the silent-movie comedians. This didn’t make much sense to me at the time since she described him as a man who never smiled, who always stayed dead serious while she and the rest of the audience screamed with delight. I remember trying to imagine his looks from what she told me, going so far as to stand in front of a mirror with a deadpan expression until I could bear it no longer and would burst out laughing. In the early post-World War II days in Belgrade, there was still a movie theater showing silent films. My grandmother took me to see Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, the cross-eyed Ben Turpin, but for some reason we never saw Keaton.
Is that him? I would occasionally nudge her and whisper when some unfamiliar, somber face appeared on the screen. […] My grandmother never found Keaton. It took me another seven years to actually see a film of his. […]
Most probably, I was playing hooky that afternoon, sneaking into a cinema when I should’ve been in class, but there was Buster Keaton finally on the screen, wearing a porkpie hat and standing on the sidewalk at the end of a long breadline. The line keeps moving, but for some reason the two fellows standing in front of him do not budge. They are clothing-store dummies, but Buster does not realize that. He takes a pin out of his lapel and pricks one of the slowpokes, but there is no reaction; meanwhile the line up ahead grows smaller and smaller as each man is handed a loaf of bread. Then Buster has an idea. He pricks himself to see if the pin works. At that moment the store owner comes out, sticks his hand out to check for rain, and takes the two fully dressed dummies under his arms and carries them inside.
A few other gags have remained vivid in my memory from that first viewing of Keaton’s shorts.
Charles Simic, Writers at the Movies, Harper Perennial, New York 2000

For the restoration of The Goat twelve elements were inspected and analyzed: five of those – from the Cohen Film Collection and the Cinémathèque de Toulouse – were digitized and compared. Reconstruction used two duplicate negatives, both second generation, preserved by the Cohen Film Collection, both scanned at 4K resolution. The element with a higher photographic quality was used as consistently as possible; missing portions were integrated with the second dupe negative, despite the latter presented a lower definition of the image due to printing defects.

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Buster Keaton, Mal St. Clair. F.: Elgin Lessley. Int.: Buster Keaton (il capro espiatorio), Virginia Fox (figlia del capo della polizia), Joe Roberts (il capo della polizia), Mal St. Clair (Dead Shot Dan), Kitty Bradbury, Eddie Cline, Jean Havez. Prod.: Joseph M. Schenck per Comique Film Corporation. DCP. D.: 21’. Bn.