Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Friday, 23 September 2011


THE RAILRODDER is an utterly charming short made in 1965 starring Buster Keaton going across Canada on a railcart. That's it - it was made for The National Film Board of Canada. I have not seen in ages but loved it at the time, I think it was about 24 minutes. This played at London's prestige Academy Cinema and in part rehabilitated Buster in his final years. The great stoneface rides his machine across all that scenery in all weathers, and has enough space for his food, coffee, papers etc. Its marvellously surreal and recalls the great comedian's glory days with THE GENERAL, OUR HOSPITALITY, and maybe his best STEAMBOAT BILL JR with that hurricane scene and the house falling on him, and others. He was always funnier than Chaplin for me.

Pretty soon Buster was in another short FILM by Samuel Beckett and Richard Lester added him to his zany comedy A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FURUM with Zero Mostel, young Michael Crawford etc. Buster was honoured at the Cannes Film Festival, and then died, aged 70 in 1966, but at least he had been rediscovered.

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