Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Haunted House (1921)

The Haunted House is a hilarious short directed by Edward F. Cline and Buster Keaton, written by Edward F. Cline and Buster Keaton, and produced by Joseph M. Schenck.  The short stars Buster Keaton (of course), Virginia Fox,  and frequent Keaton antagonist "Big" Joe Roberts.  It also costars Edward F. Cline (as one of the bank customers), Dorothy Cassil, and Natalie Talmadge (she's the girl who faints in the bank) who would become Keaton's wife.

A bank teller (Keaton) manages to get out of one sticky situation only to find himself in another as he foils a bank robbery and ends up in a "haunted house" which ends up being the bank robbers hideout.  Keaton, who's now mistaken for one of the bank robbers/counterfeiters, hides out in the house with a troupe of performers (in full costume) who were booed and chased off the stage of a local theater. 

The house is actually rigged with trick gadgets to scare off anyone, especially the police, who happens to stumble upon the hideout.  But Buster doesn't know this and it takes him a little while to catch on.  And when he does he catches the crooks, saves the girl, and saves the day.  He does have a slight problem negotiating a stairway to heaven, but everything turns out okay in the end.  Great two-reeler, and lots of fun.

Eddie Cline started out as one of the Keystone Cops and also directed several W.C. Fields films.  Joseph Schenck was fairly successful in his career producing films and shorts for Keaton and others, as well as his own wife Norma Talmadge (Keaton's sister-in-law).  Virginia Fox appeared in some of Max Sennet's comedy shorts, and Joe Roberts frequently appeared as a villain in other Keaton films.

Check out for some pretty cool collectibles and stuff.

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