My First Time with Buster Keaton: One Week

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Writing about Buster Keaton’s films has always been a pleasant experience for me. When Lea from Silent-Ology announced that she’ll be hosting the Buster Keaton Blogathon for a third consecutive year, I couldn’t skip this most amazing event. This year is a special one, as 2017 marks the centenary of Buster Keaton’s career which started in 1917.

To read the other entries, please click on this picture:

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For the occasion, I chose to talk about the film that introduced me to his work: One Week (1920); one of his most delightful shorts and a personal favourite along with The High Sign.

I first have to tell you how I came to see this film for the first time as it is one of my favourite life stories. To tell you the truth, it’s by pure coincidence that I discovered Buster Keaton. I don’t exactly remember how old I was, in my early/mid-teens I think. I was at the museum of Shawinigan with my sisters and my parents and there was an exhibition featuring two eccentric artists (can’t remember their name). One of them had decided to project One Week on a little screen as he was a fan of Buster Keaton. So, we see this funny little man building a house in the most amazing way and we are thrilled by it. We watched it twice in a row because it was just so good, you know. We didn’t know much about Buster Keaton’s then, but we could feel what a genius he was. And that’s how I was introduced to his films.

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One Week has a very simple, but effective plot: A newly wed couple (Buster Keaton and Sybil Seely) receives a build-it-yourself house as a wedding gift. Keaton starts the job, but the final result is not the one expected after a jealous man (who wanted the girl for himself) writes the wrong numbers on the boxes containing the material for the house as a bad joke and revenge. Bad joke, but the result is hilarious. The film is called One Week as the story lasts… one week!

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Just like The High-Sign, One Week is a film that can pick architects’ curiosity as the set itself has its own importance. The house is not only a house, but it also becomes a character. All the film revolves around it and is influenced by its metamorphosis. The building of this house also creates interesting visual effects. Did Buster Keaton really do all his stunts? To be honest, I’m always surprised he didn’t die… However, Wikipedia (I know, I know…) informs us that “the fall Keaton takes when he steps out of the bathroom and falls two stories down, is one of the few occasions he truly hurt himself making films. ” So, he took risks.

Interestingly enough, no models were used: a full-size house was used for the filming, and I think it was for the best, as it makes the movie credible enough. Who says movies of the 20’s are not impressing?

What I’ve always loved about Buster Keaton’s films is how those are truffled with a ton of amusing details and fun physical comedy moments. One Week doesn’t make an exception and is like a tiara of fun with moments such as:

  • Buster Keaton taking the place of a policeman to stop a car (after knocking him on the head)
  • The milk splashing Sybil Seeley’s face

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  • That priceless censorship moment (my congratulations to the hand, whoever hand it was)

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  • Buster Keaton falling in Sybil Seeley’s bath (while trying to install the chimney on the house)
  • When it’s raining in the house

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  • The house spinning on itself during a storm
  • … etc.

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There’s also this line that never fails to crack me up. Once the house is finished, Keaton and Seeley invites a few guesses to their new home, but a storm breaks out and the house starts spinning around. Once everybody has been thrown outside, a man thanks Buster and tells him:

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For this film, Buster Keaton was faithful to what he was known for: The Man who never smiles. I honestly think he’s very adorable, even if he doesn’t smile. I would have liked him to build my house anytime, even if the result could have been catastrophic. He’s just amazing to watch. He and Sybil Seeley makes a lovely couple and we can truly feel a good chemistry between them. Those moments where they kiss each other very rapidly are lovely. I also love the fact that the two characters stand for each other and never get impatient at each other despite the trouble they are having with the house. Oh, there’s this scene when Keaton tells to Seeley to go away (so he could install the carpet if my memory is good) and she’s not very happy. Or when Keaton’s falls in his wife’s bath and she’s mad at him. But those little incidents are quickly forgotten by both of them, and true love and solidarity win the battle.

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For anybody who hasn’t seen any Buster Keaton’s films, One Week is certainly a good option. It’s easily watchable, it’s visually brilliant and narratively captivating. If you haven’t seen this film yet, well, be ready to spend some of the most entertaining 20-ish minutes of your life:

Big thanks to Lea of Silent-Ology for hosting this wonderful blogathon! Buster Keaton is one that deserves to be celebrated again and again!

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Sidney Poitier is 90!

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Today, we’re celebrating something important: the legendary Sidney Poitier is 90, and he’s still with us! For the occasion, I’m hosting the 90 Years of Sidney Poitier Blogathon. Click here to read all the marvellous entries.

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The first Sidney Poitier’s film I saw was In the Heat of the Night. I remember renting it at this video store that, unfortunately, doesn’t exist anymore and, like most 1967 films, truly enjoyed it. As two of the participants indicated it in their article, it’s a shame Sidney  wasn’t Oscar nominated for his role. I honestly believe it’s one of his best performances. It’s full of strength, determination and charisma. You know, that kind of performance that shows us what great acting is. Anyway, just for that “They call me Mister Tibbs!” moment alone he should have been nominated.

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But, luckily, Sidney won the Oscar in 1964 for his brilliant performance in Lilies of the Fields (1963). A most deserved Oscar as, I believe, it’s his best performance (well, for the films I’ve seen so far). Just like his the film itself, is portraying of Homer Smith is touching and honest. He doesn’t fail to make us smile, and share out his anger toward Mother Maria! The most amazing thing about this Oscar win is that Sidney was the first African-American actor to win an Oscar (the first actress was Hattie McDaniel for her performance in Gone With the Wind (1939) as Mammy). And it was about time! Just take a look at this speech. Golden moments like this one don’t happen often at the Academy Awards.

He’s so happy 🙂 ❤ Anyway, that moment just makes me smile so much! On another note: Anne Bancroft is gorgeous.

So far, I’ve seen 10 Sidney Poitier’s films (I know, I have many more to see) and I never was disappointed. Well, the only one that I might have liked a little less is Something of Value. I don’t know, it was a bit too dramatic. But never Sidney Poitier failed to impress me. As I told it, he kills it with that determination, the clarity of his speech, his presence, his wisdom… And that laugh! My, I love it. It just warms your heart, don’t you think?

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Sidney was a man of many talents. Not only he could act, but he could also:

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And even sing! (Warning: for those who haven’t seen it, this is the final scene of Lilies of the Fields! )

Ok, where is that musical starring Poitier now? Is there one? Because if yes, you have to let me know asap. And if no, well… too bad.

Sidney Poitier was not only the first African-American actor to receive an Oscar, but he also was one of the first one to be cast in leading, various and serious roles (other than a servant or a singer in a club, like it was often the case in classic films). And he rocked it and proved that not just white actors were able to play all kinds of roles. (And, between you and me, he’s better than some of them… hahaha). Sidney has always shown the greatest example of anti-racism through his films. In The Defiant Ones, he proves that an African-American and a caucasian can become friends. In Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, he proves that love between two persons of different ethnic groups is possible. In In the Heat of the Night, he proves that black men deserve to be respected as much as white men are, etc. Well, it’s more the film itself that proves all this, but let’s say he’s the proud representative of anti-racism movies. He’s a legend and everybody should be proud of him for what he brought to the divine art of cinema.

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There is much more I would like to know about Sidney Poitier. I’m familiar with his work as an actor, but, I’d like to know more about his life (other than what I can read on Internet…). So, biographies’ recommendations are quite welcome here!

In 1992 Sidney Poitier received his AFI Life Achievement Award. His friend Harry Belafonte (who will also celebrate his 90th birthday quite soon – March 1) payed a tribute to him by singing Amen. We can see Sidney he’s thrilled and it’s personally one of my most favourite YouTube videos ever!

 

Faithful to my habits, I’d now like to present you my top 10 Sidney Poitier’s film! Honestly, it’s a hard job because, as I’ve said, I really love all his movies. But, let’s give it a try:

1- A Patch of Blue (this one is my favourite for sure)
2- To Sir, with Love
3- Blackboard Jungle
4- Lilies of the Fields
5- The Defiant Ones
6- Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
7- No Way Out
8- In the Heat of the Night
9- Edge of the City
10- Something of Value
Well, that gives you a rough idea.
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Happy 90 birthday Sidney Poitier! You are one of a kind!
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The 90 Years of Sidney Poitier Blogathon is here!

Yes! We are finally coming to this point where people submit and read the entries for the Sidney Poitier Blogathon! I’m honestly very impatient to read all these articles celebrating this legendary actor.

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As soon as you’ll submit your entry, I’ll add you to the roster. Remember, the event starts today, February 18, 2017 and ends Monday, February 20, 2017, on Sidney’s birthday. Make sure to be on time, but late entries will be accepted to because: 1- this is not school (we’re here to have fun), and 2- I myself sometimes submit late entries.

So here we go!

The lovely entries:

To all the participants, make sure to link this post in your entry!

A big thanks to all of you because without any participants, there’s no blogathon!

And a very happy 90th birthday to the one and only Sidney Poitier! 🙂

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