This post is part of the Seventh Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon hosted by Silent-ology.
Hello again! I like to give a big “Thank you!” to Leah for hosting the blogathon for another year!
Now, I know most Buster Keaton fans try to overlook his first talkie, Free and Easy (1930), as it marks the handover of Buster’s freedom to MGM. While, it is quite apparent that Buster does not play his usual character that we all identify him as in this film, I don’t find it to be an entirely dim production.
“Free and Easy opened to generally negative reviews with Robert E. Sherwood in Film Daily remarking that, “Buster Keaton, trying to imitate a standard musical comedy clown, is no longer Buster Keaton and no longer funny.” However, audiences, perhaps drawn by Keaton’s co-stars or the novelty of hearing him speak, made Free and Easy a hit, in fact, a bigger hit than most of his now famous silent films.”(B. Cady).
Chalk it up to hearing Buster’s lovely voice, it was a huge bonus for me too, but I just don’t believe this was the only Keaton-inspired draw to this movie. The studio did try to reduce the brilliant Buster Keaton to something of an unintelligent klutz, but if you know our little dear, their attempts could not stop his resilience and amazing talent from shining through. One of my main defenses for this movie is in fact his performance. Buster stepped out from his normal comedic character and became a singer, a dancer, and a dramatic actor that makes your eyes well up with tears, or at least mine did.
I am not an easy crier. I prefer to analyze my emotions before I display them and Buster’s way of controlling his was one of, if not the thing that initially made me fascinated with him. The first day I watched this movie was a memorably challenging day for me. I found my heart was very disillusioned and in a daze just like Buster’s character at the end of the movie. There was a similar feeling about that day as the one he portrayed on the screen. I suppose it was the feeling that you had tried your hardest for love, but it didn’t notice you again, and the time for trying was over and there was nothing to be done about that. I had been out that day, and when I came home I knew I needed to see a comforting face. So, I put on the new comedian I had started admiring. The one with the flat hat and the big, beautiful eyes. This was to be my first time hearing his voice in a picture, and I was saving it for a melancholy day. I pressed play and left my troubles to be emersed in his.
I enjoyed hearing him sing and watching him dance, but the end was what really captured my attention. Rejected in a way only he understands, Buster walks on the set. The girl he once dreamed would someday be his own asked him one last favor, make her laugh. So, there he stood, his face painted with a clown’s make up. He gave his performance and all present grinned. Then, the final song played, and he stood amidst a group of faces graced with smiles while his face remained as still as an unlit candle. And he surrendered her, but refused to let a single tear fall.
At that moment I knew I had found the first person I felt I could truly understand. The little man seemed to be portraying all my very thoughts, fears, and emotions in a few simple seconds. And I found myself unable to control my own tears. As they fell, I told God, “That is exactly how I feel now.” I still thank Him for His sweetness in giving me “Free and Easy” on that day to let me know He understood and everything would be alright.
So much time has passed, and God has filled my heart up again. He has given me His own love to mend the injuries. And even now, I am still so very thankful for that special day when He showed me the little man I fell in love with, the man who continues to inspire me to be strong, which is only through God’s strength, Buster Keaton.
Cady, B. (1970, January 01). Free and Easy. Retrieved December 13, 2020, from https://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/13763/free-and-easy
To see my tribute video to Free and Easy, click the link below and I would love to hear any comments or suggestions you may have!