Buster Keaton in “Battling Butler”

Annex - Keaton, Buster (Battling Butler)_NRFPT_01

September 19 is the anniversary of the release date of the Buster Keaton comedy Battling Butler (1926).

Some background: Keaton’s most recent feature Go West had not done so well, so his producer (and brother-in-law) Joe Schenck exercised a little authority and dictated his next couple of projects. Battling Butler was based on a hit stage play of the same name that had starred Charlie Ruggles.

The film finds Keaton playing the same sort of character we find in The Saphead, Seven Chances and The Navigator, a rich, useless young man, whose father sends him camping to make a man of him. In short order he falls in love with a mountain girl (Sally O’Neil). In order to impress her and her rough, tough family with his manhood he misrepresents himself as another man who has the same name who happens to be a boxing champion. Little of Keaton’s full scope of ingenuity is in evidence in the film. It has almost nothing distinctive about it except a few small gags. Yet it was Keaton’s most financially successful feature. This ironic fact would not bode well for Keaton’s future and ongoing independence as a film-maker.

To learn more about comedy film history, including Buster Keaton comedies like “Battling Butler” please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.