Piano accompaniment by Daniele Furlati and drums accompaniment by Frank Bockius
Spite Marriage is said to be the first Keaton film to be made from a full script, but this applies already to The Cameraman. Normally, one can only speculate on how many writers worked on a silent film, but in this case documentary evidence exists: Keaton, Ed Sedgwick, Lew Lipton and Ernest Pagano would discuss the gags and routines and Schayer would turn their ideas into a script. The shooting script for Spite Marriage has survived. It is amusing, but not inspired. […] Keaton told Rudi Blesh that Spite Marriage had been a series of battles and that the most vehement concerned the scene of putting the woman to bed. MGM had been taken to task by the Hays Office for the risqué nature of some of its films, and when [producer] Lawrence Weingarten saw the rushes, he told the editor that he needn’t bother breaking them down: “I don’t like this type of thing in my pictures”. […] Surprisingly, for a man so identified with silent films, Keaton had no fear of sound. In fact, he asked to do Spite Marriage in sound, depending less on dialogue than on sound effects. The front office refused. […] Weingarten thought Keaton’s voice was flat and monotonous. Actually, Keaton’s baritone was exactly the timbre the early talkies needed. What Weingarten was presumably anxious about, but didn’t put into so many words, was that Keaton had the kind of accent of a blue-collar worker. It was an accent that would restrict his roles. Of course, it did no such thing. And even at MGM he was soon playing roles such as that of a university professor. Spite Marriage was eventually given an undistinguished musical score and a few arbitrary sound effects. One can safely say that neither represented what Keaton had in mind. Curiously enough, the film was booked into the Capitol immediately after an all-talkie, The Great Power, and played six performances to disastrous results. “Words can hardly tell the relief it was to look at Mr Keaton’s imaginative but silly silent antics in his latest farce”, wrote Mordaunt Hall in the “New York Times”. “The theatre that had been filled with pain and gloom was aroused to a state of high glee”.
Kevin Brownlow, manuscript
Cast and Credits
Sog.: Lew Lipton. Scen.: Richard Schayer. F.: Reggie Lanning. M.: Frank Sullivan. Scgf.: Cedric Gibbons. Int.: Buster Keaton (Elmer), Dorothy Sebastian (Trilby Drew), Edward Earle (Lionel Denmore), Leila Hyams (Ethyl Norcrosse), William Bechtel (Nussbaum), John Byron (Giovanni Scarzi), Hank Mann. Prod.: Lawrence Weingarten per MGM. DCP. Bn.
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