2:00 pm | $6 | 1923 | Black and white/Thriller | 1h 27m
with Live Piano Accompaniment by Marta Waterman
After dipping his toe into the waters of full-length films with The Three Ages, Keaton creates his first, fully realized full-length film with Our Hospitality. The plot, (a popular one with Keaton) is “fish out of water” New Yorker Willie McKay, who receives a letter that he must travel South to claim his father’s estate. His elation is quickly diffused by his Aunt ( with whom Willie has lived with since a baby) who tells him of family’s dark history and why he ended up with her in New York. All of this has been explained to the audience in the film’s wonderfully dark and dramatic opening where Keaton plays homage to his idol, DW Griffith and leaves the audience thinking “this is a comedy?” In short, Willie is the last of the McKays who have been feuding with the Canfields (if this sounds suspiciously like the McCoys & Hatfields, it should, Keaton changed the names for some very sound reasons) and upon his return to his hometown, he would be prey to the Canfield’s vow of revenge. Willie, brushes off his aunts warnings and heads South. On the train, the girl next to him is no other than Virginia Canfield (played by Buster’s real wife Natalie Talmadge) of the Canfields. Of course, neither of them know this and during the long, tedious trip they fall in love. Virginia innocently invites Willie to dinner where he is exposed as their mortal enemy. Her brothers and father would love to kill Willie, but alas, they can’t. According to the rules of Southern Hospitality, killing your guest, is well, just not polite. The rest of the film entails the Canfields trying to get Willie out of the house and Willie (who’s no fool) trying to stay. Our Hospitality has some of Buster’s best gags and stunts (one which literally almost killed him) culminating with a daring save of Virginia from a waterfall.
“Our Hospitality is Keaton’s first feature as auteur and his first masterpiece.” Jim Emerson
“With this work, Keaton began to display a dramatic sense to complement his comic sensibility — like ‘The General’, it is built with the integrity of a high-adventure story.”
Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
“One of the best comedies ever produced for the screen. The picture is splendidly cast, flawlessly directed and intelligently photographed.” Variety