The 20 Most Influential Comedians in Film History
Also known as “The Great Stone Face”, Buster Keaton was one of the most courageous actresses of the silent era. Slapstick films dominated the industry, but Keaton was willing to put his life on the line with his elaborate stunts. Keaton was raised by a family that encouraged risk-taking. As a child, he looked to artists like Harry Houdini for inspiration.
Like many silent film stars, Keaton began appearing in short films before moving on to acting. In the early 1920s, he set up his own production company, Buster Keaton Features. Keaton has directed and starred in thunderous comedy shorts including “The Scarecrow” and “The Playhouse.” Many of these films are now in the public domain and can be viewed for free. It’s amazing to think of a cinema that is still as effective today as it was a century ago.
Keaton made his directorial debut in 1923 with the historical satire “Three Ages.” The hour-long adventure takes place in three different timelines, spanning the prehistoric era, the rise of the Roman Empire, and the present day. Keaton crafted the story to ridicule DW Griffith’s 1916 historical epic “Intolerance.” It was a risky business. If the film failed, it would be split into shorts and Keaton would never become a feature film star. However, audiences responded favorably to its mix of outrageous slapstick and social satire. He then created the classics “Sherlock Jr.” and “The General”.