THREE AGES (director/writer: Buster Keaton/Eddie Cline; screenwriters: Clyde Bruckman/Jean Havez/Joseph Mitchell; cinematographers: William McGann/Elgin Lessley; editor: ; music: ; cast: Buster Keaton (The Boy), Wallace Beery (The Villain), Margaret Leahy (The Girl), Joe Roberts (The Girl’s Father), Lillian Lawrence (The Girl’s Mother), Kewpie Morgan (Roman Emperor); Runtime: 63; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Joseph Schenck; Kino; 1923-silent)
“Buster Keaton’s first feature film was a spoof on D.W. Griffith’s 1916 masterpiece Intolerance.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Buster Keaton’s first feature film was a spoof on D.W. Griffith’s 1916 masterpiece Intolerance, except Keaton focuses only on the love theme and uses only the following three settings: the Stone Age, ancient Rome and the 1920s America.The comedy veers back and forth between these three ages, with Buster in all three segments pursuing the Girl (Margaret Leahy, the English beauty was the beauty contest winner producer Joseph Schenck promised a part in his wife Norma Talmadge‘s picture , but she was such a dreadful actress the director refused to work with her and she was forced on Buster instead) and his rival in each segment is always the villainous Wallace Beery.
The weaker Buster is bullied in each segment in his attempt to win Margaret from the brutish Beery, but he fights back in the end to win the Girl. Though overloaded with too much of a narrative for a Keaton comedy, some flashes of the Keaton genius occurs. In the scenes of modern times, it retains a few funny sketches when it resorts to physical comedy–like Buster escaping from the police station to stop Margaret from marrying the bigamist Beery. The pre-historic setting has Buster get some laughs by riding a dinosaur, While the Roman era setting has a madcap Ben Hur-like chariot race, whereby in the snow Buster converts the chariot into a dog-sled.
REVIEWED ON 10/18/2011 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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