Chancy Game That Was Collecting
Our Hospitality (1923) When It Was Ill-Got Gain
We're ninety-four years past release of Our Hospitality. Ninety-four years! That's as far as Buster Keaton was removed from the period he recreated for this, his second feature, and first acknowledged masterpiece. Which raises a question, how many of such masterpieces did Keaton create? --- I mean to fall in that undisputed category. Besides Our Hospitality, do we add Sherlock, Jr., Seven Chances, The General, and Steamboat Bill, Jr.? Any others? In event the list closes on these, that's half of his independent features, and all done in first half of a long career. I remark on the 94 years because Our Hospitality stays so undated. It will please as well today as for audiences when new, maybe better. They were bound to have taken great comedy more for granted then. But wait, I said comedy, when fact is, I look at Our Hospitality in period adventure terms as much as mirth, a stance even more applied to Keaton's ultimate venture into past that was The General. A best comedy is one we'll watch and admire long after laughs have been had and surprises spent.
|For Good Boys and Girls, There was The General from Blackhawk. For Others ...|
Only those of us in the know, knew, and if tagged by cops, could disavow knowledge of Our Hospitality being trafficked. It was "The Feud" we ordered for $60 (to think --- I could have a glorious Blu-Ray nearly three times for that money today). So Our Hospitality came stealth to my address in early 1972, a "hot" movie an incautious collector could acquire provided he was willing to deal with devils, a route I'd take and keep taking. This was what the game was about in those days. The best of what we bought was pilfered, bootlegged, or snatched out of labs and TV stations. Had I been older and with more sense, or better instinct for self-preservation, I'd not have taken risks like those routinely engaged when collecting was such perilous pursuit. So what, then, of Our Hospitality, or rather, The Feud? Well, my print proved somewhat a dud. You could watch it, make some of action out, but for most part, this was like clouds through bottom of a Coke bottle, a mess to any but hardest-core rarity seekers. My peace was bought by fact this was forbidden fruit ripe in my hands, a trophy others could not, dare not, acquire. Issues of quality or clarity were secondary to joy of just having Our Hospitality for my own.