Buster Keaton, Natalie Talmadge, Joe Roberts,
Buster, heir to an Appalachian estate and, along with it, the Hatfield-McCoy-type feud that killed his father, finds the ancestral abode ever so humble, and no place like home. While courting the daughter/sister of his hulking rivals, he takes full advantage of their hospitality, since Southern chivalry prevents them shooting a guest. Our Hospitality is an American masterpiece, at once lyric and frenetic, and a sly satire on the very period setting it creates with painstaking accuracy. “The weekly visit of the kindly parson,” alongside other quaint customs like wife beating, gleefully give the lie to D. W. Griffith’s nostalgia for the Old South. The climactic chase over mountain crest and tor—with a raging river rescue that gently satirizes and finally tops Way Down East—is a breathtakingly beautiful observation of the fact that we are all tied to our enemies.
The High Sign
Eddie Cline, Buster Keaton, United States, 1921
This fellow who “came from nowhere, is not going anywhere, and was kicked out of somewhere” is keeping rather mean company: a mini Mafia whose secret-signing members seem to be everywhere.