Our Hospitality (1923)


Our Hospitality title screen

Now THAT is classy.


Our Hospitality is hilarious. Buster Keaton was a genius of silent film comedy. This is more amusing than bullshit like Old Dogs. Now, I’ve never seen Old Dogs, but I guarantee on the lives of several of my unborn children, that I am correct. This is the oldest movie I have ever reviewed, older than Sunrise by a solid 4 years! Now that is old, and this is a whole different ballgame.

Buster Keaton acts and directs himself, which is a talent achieved by very few people. In my opinion he knocks the socks off of Charlie Chaplin; Keaton is the real king of slapstick. In this film, The Canfield and McKay families are at war, kinda like the Montagues and the Capulets from Romeo and Juliet, except with more funny and more silence. After a Mckay falls to a bullet in the stormy rain, the family decides to send away the youngest son off to live a normal life, ignorant of the feud.


our hospitality screen shot pimp

What a pimp.


21 years later, he receives a letter informing him that his father has died, and he returns to claim the estate. Hilarity ensues immediately. How so? The train ride to his destination is plagued with malfunctions on the magnitude of a Federation Starship. You know how those are always breaking down due to engineering incompetence. He meets a young, attractive lady named Virgina going to the same place he’s going, who turns out to be his soul mate, and they have great fun shitting their pants at the ineptitude of the train conductors, all while cuddling up against each other amidst the chaos.

At one point, the train reaches some sort of switch off intersection thing? I don’t know they’re called, but they switch the tracks. Anyways, some kid, presumably employed by the rail road, is dicking around with the tracks, probably to lay down some dynamite or something. As the train approaches, he flips the switch, and causes the train to split into two, along the two separate tracks. What the hell!? The slap stick engineering is well played. The kid witnesses what has just happened, and runs away. My reaction probably would have been the same.


Our Hospitality screen shot split train

Good job, asshole!


Arriving at their destination, the Canfield clan attempts to murder him at every possible opportunity. The attractive young girl he met on the train likes him so much that she invites him over for dinner. Little did he know that she is a Canfield! Bum Bum Buuuum!
Once over at dinner, the pissed off scary fat man father figure informs his boys that the blood feud is still on, but that they cannot kill him while he is a guest in their home. He calls it “our hospitality”. I love it when movies do that!

Wandering through the home, Buster overhears the brothers that Father won’t let them kill him in the house, but outside, he is fair game. The rain is pouring outside and one would surely die out in the elements, so Buster proceeds to make himself a permanent guest of the house. Justifiably! While teaching Virgina piano, he makes a move and plants a big wet kiss on her. The creepy ghostly image of a father sees this and decides to tell the poor girl that he is a Mckay. This shocks Virgina, and Buster finally decides that it’s time to leave.

He dresses up as a woman and gets the hell out of there. Works every time! What follows is a montage of effects that blow me away. He manages to escape the Canfield men all the way to a mountain side. The whole sequence is reminiscent of cliffhanger. That’s how good it looks. It’s amazing that they were able to do this in 1923.


Our hospitality screen shot cliffhanger

Keaton outdid Stallone 70 years before him.


Eventually the pursuit ends up into the water, and Keaton goes through some pretty crazy river rapids that would surely kill a man of lesser balls than Mckay. Virginia goes after him and ends up near the water, where Mckay rescues her and they end up living happily ever after. They are found back at the house, getting married. Everyone puts down their arms as the father reluctantly agrees to end the feud. To top it all over, Mckay empties himself of enough concealed firearms to make Neo green with envy. No really! This actually happened! Now go watch this fucking movie you dirty ape.


our hospitality screenshot ghost

That's a scary fucking ghost.


In my earlier Sunrise review I mentioned my fascination with silent films and how they portray the ghosts of ancient souls. Well it’s no different here. Everyone looks as ghostly as ever, especially Virgina’s father. There’s something very creepy and unsettling about his appearance, especially his eyes. He looks like one of those murderous ghosts you would find stalking the halls of the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland. Okay so maybe that’s not so bad, but damn that place was scary as a kid!

I recommend this to people who love to read. Why? Because reading is required, and for people who don’t mind silence. Sometimes, silence is beautiful. Oh, I also recommend this to anybody who thinks old movies are boring. Give it a chance! I think more people should appreciate ancient cinema. It’s at least a little more entertaining than staring at a computer screen and reading some review about it.

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