The plan for June is to spend some time with Buster Keaton. Buster the dreamer and Buster the doer. Buster the ambitious and Buster the romantic. It is time to watch Buster as 1928s The Cameraman.
Buster, the character in this movie, is a NYC photographer; an artist in tintype. The photo produced on tin had its heyday in the late 19th century. Rumpled little Buster and his career seem an anachronism in the late 1920s, an era most remembered for its fast-paced jazz sound-tracked antics. Life is about to take a sudden change for our hero. He has met a girl. Correction. He has met THE girl. Miss Sally, played by lovely Marceline Day is the Girl Friday for the MGM Newsreel Department. The smitten Buster is encouraged by Sally's kind advice regarding how to break into this modern form of photography. His life savings go toward a second-hand (maybe third or fourth hand) moving picture camera. It will only be a matter of the right breaks (please not the office window again!) and he'll be in business. See Buster in Yankee Stadium! Too bad the team was in St. Louis.
Buster Keaton, Marceline Day
Miss Sally is also kindly encouraging regarding their personal relationship. She lets it be known that she may possibly be free on Sunday. See Buster break the bank for a pocketful of dimes with which to show the young lady a good time. See Buster brave the sitting area of the women's residence while picking up his date. See Buster drive a cop played by Harry Gribbon positively goofy in a running (in more ways than one) gag throughout the movie. See Buster at the municipal pool sharing a change locker with rotund Edward Brophy (Dumbo). See Buster lose his swimwear in the attempt to impress his date. See Buster catch cold.
Josephine, Buster Keaton
Sally tips Buster to a celebration in Chinatown that might make for good copy. When a Tong war breaks out Buster is Johnny-on-the-spot, along with a new companion in Josephine the famous Capuchin Monkey (The Kid Brother) of the movies. Josephine is an adorable scene-stealer who both hinders and helps Buster as he records and creates news in Chinatown. Josephine is also instrumental in wrapping things up quite nicely in the amorous section of our story. In the best heroic and comedic fashion, Buster succeeds on all levels, as does the movie.
The Cameraman was directed by Edward Sedgwick and Buster Keaton, two compatible comedic souls who found each other at MGM. Sadly, their creativity was not utilized at its best by the studio in the coming sound era, but that does not negate the pleasure to be found in their best work. The Cameraman was placed on the National Film Registry in 2005.
TCM is screening The Cameraman on Wednesday, June 15th at 6:00 am, kicking off a day of movies about photographers. I will confess to not being a fan of the score provided on the TCM copy of The Camerman, but it may be just your thing. Live accompaniment by William O'Meara at a Silent Revue screening a few years ago was much more to my liking.