Hard Luck

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Keaton's favourite, apparently, of his early shorts - perhaps because it's essentially plot-free, allowing Buster to concentrate on his comic routines unimpeded by storytelling considerations. It begins with a flurry of suicide gags in which the down and out hero tries unsuccessfully to do himself in. Next comes a beautifully orchestrated number involving the rolling of a cigarette and the landing of a series of increasingly large fish. There's a leisurely passage exploring all the humorous ways of climbing aboard a horse and, for the grand finale, a fast-paced knockabout in which Buster vanquishes a bunch of villains who have wandered into the picture. Rough-edged, but all the familiar virtues - inventiveness, timing, athletic grace and an underlying melancholy - are present in a state of vigorous germination.

By: BBa

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