Follow by Email

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Happy Birthday Buster Keaton-Cinema Spotlight on College 1927

In any discussion of silent film the names of the three great male comedy stars will come up: Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd.  While I enjoy all of them, stoney faced Buster Keaton is far and away my favorite.

Image Source
October 4 marked the 119 anniversary of his birth.  Meaning there is no better time then early October to enjoy a Buster Keaton film and you couldn't pick a better one then College, 1927.

In the film Keaton plays Ronald a bookish mama's boy from a modest back ground who thanks to hard work and study graduates Valedictorian of his High School class.  The film opens with Ronald walking to his graduation during a violent rainstorm with his mother and his girl friend, Mary, in tow.

Add caption
Ronald's makes a desperate attempt to share the umbrella between the two women vying for his affections.  His efforts are unsuccessful and he arrives at the ceremony in a shrunken suit and with both women angry with him.

  At his graduation he delivers a speech on the "curse of the athlete"

that does nothing to endear him to his peers.   Worst of all his priggish devotion to books and rejection of sports is the last straw for Mary who breaks up with him.  Ronald leaves the ceremony heart broken

but determined to win Mary back. 

 He decides to follow her to Clayton a college that prides itself on athletics.  Once there he undergoes a campaign  to prove his love by transforming himself into one of the muscle bound athletes he hates. 

He tries baseball 

and track and field

with predictably disastrous results.

Making the situation worse is the fact that Ronald doesn't have enough money to pay Clayton's tuition so he gets a series of part time jobs to pay the bills.

Image Source
 I can't get over the adorable striped tie, hat and argyle sweater combo worn in this photo.

Meanwhile, Mary,

I love Mary's beret and tie neck blouse here and the little pin anchoring it.

is being romanced by a manly and muscular athlete who embodies everything Ronald is not. 

College boasts absolutely adorable 1920s co-ed fashions.   As I mentioned in an earlier post the twenties where a great time for college fashion, and as Buster struggles to impress Mary and Mary waivers between suitors, they and there peers, wear some of the cutest fashions ever captured on film.

Image Source
Argyle sweaters are big for the boys at Clatyon

Just look at the chic suits and dresses and trim cloche hats on the girls,  much better then the looks I see at football games these days.  I also love Mary's color blocked wide collared dress and low heeled pumps.

Image Source
The sporty knits in this shot are my favorite.  I really want a dress like Mary's.

A  fur coat big enough for two

Image Source
Another shot of Mary's color blocked dress with the wide collar.  This is one of my favorite dresses on film and one I hope to have copied some day.

Eventually poor Ronald is so bogged down by athletics, failed jobs, and his futile attempts to regain Mary's affections that his grades suffer.  The Dean questions him about whats going on and on hearing of his plight he is sympathetic.  He orders the captain of the Rowing Team to put Ronald on his crew so that he can impress Mary.

Image Source

The distressed team and coach try to get Ronald off the team by drugging him but the wrong player gets doped.

Despite Ronald crashing the boat and causing general mayhem the team manages to win. 

Meanwhile Mary has finally softened to Ronald and is touched by his attempts to impress her.  More over she has tired of her brutish athlete boy friend who has been expelled from school due to his poor grades.  The boyfriend wont take no for an answer and he locks Mary in his dorm room so that she will be discovered there and expelled along with him.  Mary phones Ronald and in one of cinema's great comic romantic scenes he rescues her by performing a series of athletics, including pole-vaulting into the dorm room, beating up his rival, and throwing a javelin, that he was never able to do before.

Ronald and Mary get caught embracing and unchaperoned in the dorm room and are both promptly expelled from Clayton.

image source

Unperturbed by the end of their academic careers they go off to marry.

The last scenes are some of the sweetest and most romantic in the history of cinema.  Ronald and Mary are shown sitting side by side as they gradually grow older until you see this:

College is a delightful film that is as sweet, charming, and funny today as it was in 1927.  It is available for instant download with Amazon Prime and can be rented from Netflix. 


  1. Great review. My silent film knowledge is obviously lacking as I have never heard Harold Lloyd. Oops!

  2. That sounds such a fun and sweet film! The rescue scene sounds really great! I love outfits ladies wear and also hair styles. Happy birthday to Buster Keaton!

  3. Buster Keaton, forgot about him. Never realised what a handsome man he was....

    Hope we get Netflix sometime soon.

  4. Fantastic post, dear Kate. Many of these images and movie stills are new to me and have rekindled my passion for Mr. Keaton's stellar work.

    ♥ Jessica

  5. I'm going to look for that on Amazon Prime. I hate to admit it - but I've only ever seen snippets of his films. I've been meaning to find one and watch the whole thing, but keep forgetting - so thanks for hte reminder! (And, yes, those argyle sweaters are so cute!)

  6. That is was a great blast from the past. He was and is such a legend. Have a tremendous Thursday.
    Best wishes Molly


Link Within

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...