“Don’t be discouraged. No one would ever amount to anything if he didn’t try.”
A would-be news cameraman (Buster Keaton) tries to break into the business with the assistance of a pretty MGM secretary (Marceline Day) who gives him tips on which events to cover.
Buster Keaton’s first film made for MGM Studios (before the imminent demise of his illustrious career) was this simple yet enjoyable tale of a photographer desperate to gain work as a newsreel director — in large part to impress a sweet girl he’s fallen head-over-heels in love with. Despite fairly severe creative constraints imposed by MGM, Keaton (directed by Edward Sedgwick) manages to make the most of this slight storyline: the largely-improvised dressing room scuffle is truly inspired, and the ending is surprisingly satisfactory. While Keaton made many masterful movies — and film fanatics shouldn’t feel obligated to see all of them — I do recommend this one as “must-see” simply given the intrinsic interest of its subject matter.
Note: MGM apparently referred to this film for years as a “perfect comedy”, and showed it to all its directors and producers to learn from.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- A sweet would-be romance between Keaton and Day
- Fine slapstick by Keaton
- Interesting historical footage of early Chinatown
Yes, as one of Keaton’s most enjoyable (and cinematically relevant) outings. Listed as a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book. Selected for the National Film Registry in 2005.