The Cameraman & One Week (1928 & 1920)
For this year’s Summer Classics silent presentation, Tampa Theatre offers a pair of classic Buster Keaton comedies with a score composed and performed live on our original 1926 Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ by Tampa Theatre’s Artist in Residence, Steven Ball!
One Week is a celebrated short comedy about a newlywed couple who set out to build their starter home from a do-it-yourself kit. Likely inspired by an industrial short the Ford Motor Company distributed to promote prefabricated housing — things were weird in the late ‘10s — One Week represents Keaton’s continued comedy evolution. At last he was able to write and direct his own films, and he made this one his own, dropping most title cards while moving further away from standard film-plot scenarios and toward more pure physical comedy. Keaton always does his own stunts, and they’re about as dangerous as they look; somehow that anxiety about his safety just makes them funnier.
The Cameraman, released eight years later, showcases him at top form. Literally: about a year later, MGM stripped Keaton of creative control over his pictures and sent his career and personal life into a spiral from which he never fully recovered. In The Cameraman, Keaton stars as a sidewalk photographer who develops a crush on a secretary for MGM’s newsreels department. With her encouragement towards his amateurish work, Buster starts filming everything he sees. His cinematographic hijinks take him through a rain storm, Chinatown gang fight, a boat chase, and friendship with a monkey, all on a hilarious romp through Roaring ‘20s New York City. Buster Keaton was an unrivalled master of silent film comedy; it’s a shame that his life hit the skids after this, but it’s such serendipity that we still have films like The Cameraman at all.
Tampa Theatre’s Summer Classics series is presented by Bank of America.
Additional support is provided by WEDU-PBS, the Arts Council of Hillsborough County and the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, Publix Super Market Charities and the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture.