Keaton's The Blacksmith

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Richard Warner
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2010 5:31 am

Keaton's The Blacksmith

Postby Richard Warner » Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:06 am

Over the years I've seen four different versions of The Blacksmith and I'm wondering if there are any other permutations out there. Also, do any Mafia Members know which is the "definitive" version? By "definitive" I mean the final cut for American release. These are the versions I've seen:
VERSION ONE
We don't see how Big Joe gets out of jail.
Virginia's mother causes her horse to bolt.
Keaton proposes to Virginia in front of a haystack.
VERSION TWO
Big Joe bursts through the side wall of the jail.
An exploding manhole causes Virginia's horse to bolt.
Keaton proposes to Virginia with the two of them sitting by the roadside.
VERSION THREE
No jail escape.
Manhole.
Haystack.
VERSION FOUR
( I briefly owned this one on an 8mm print from Glenn Photo Supply back in the 1970s, so this is from distant memory.)
Same as version one, except Big Joe is seen simply walking free from the front of the jailhouse. This is followed by an additional sequence with Keaton trying to evade Joe by pretending to be part of a roadside advert for a car. In fact, he's sitting on a plank sticking out the back of a truck and gets whisked offscreen when it drives away.

Version three is the Kino one. David Shepard mentioned in an article that this was a composite of the domestic and foreign versions, so I guess that's eliminated.
Any clarifications would be much appreciated.
Thanks!
Richard Warner

Richard M Roberts
Godfather
Posts: 1865
Joined: Sun May 31, 2009 6:30 pm

Re: Keaton's The Blacksmith

Postby Richard M Roberts » Wed Jun 16, 2010 4:30 pm

Richard Warner wrote:Over the years I've seen four different versions of The Blacksmith and I'm wondering if there are any other permutations out there. Also, do any Mafia Members know which is the "definitive" version? By "definitive" I mean the final cut for American release. These are the versions I've seen:
VERSION ONE
We don't see how Big Joe gets out of jail.
Virginia's mother causes her horse to bolt.
Keaton proposes to Virginia in front of a haystack.
VERSION TWO
Big Joe bursts through the side wall of the jail.
An exploding manhole causes Virginia's horse to bolt.
Keaton proposes to Virginia with the two of them sitting by the roadside.
VERSION THREE
No jail escape.
Manhole.
Haystack.
VERSION FOUR
( I briefly owned this one on an 8mm print from Glenn Photo Supply back in the 1970s, so this is from distant memory.)
Same as version one, except Big Joe is seen simply walking free from the front of the jailhouse. This is followed by an additional sequence with Keaton trying to evade Joe by pretending to be part of a roadside advert for a car. In fact, he's sitting on a plank sticking out the back of a truck and gets whisked offscreen when it drives away.

Version three is the Kino one. David Shepard mentioned in an article that this was a composite of the domestic and foreign versions, so I guess that's eliminated.
Any clarifications would be much appreciated.
Thanks!
Richard Warner




Richard, I hate to be the voice of harsh reality on your first post and query to the Silent Comedy Mafia, but the answer to your question is simple none of the above. There is no “definitive” version, of THE BLACKSMITH or any of these films. This is the fun of silent film archaeology, no two prints of any silent film were alike. You see, prints of silent films were assembled one at a time far more than a film today which may have 1600 prints run off a dupe neg for a mass weekend opening. In the teens, they would frequently edit and project the camera neg, and make all prints off it, and when it broke, they replaced the damaged footage from outtakes, delete the footage, or re-edit the film. And they would assemble completely new versions for the foreign negatives from secondary takes and sometimes second camera takes. Nobody was concerned about a “definitive” version of anything, heck, most of these filmmakers would be shocked that anyone cared ninety years later about this stuff.

This is why I get such pleasure reading Doug Sulphy prattle on about “The Chaplin Conspiracy” on that other minor silent comedy newsgroup (yeah, I admit I still look at it from time to time, heck, there’s so little actually going on there, takes less time to peruse than the Weather Channel’s website in the morning when I’m checking the daily temperature). This is classic OCD film nerdism, the screaming voices in his head will never allow him to enjoy any print of a Chaplin film because he might be missing a shot. In a glorious age where one can own most of Chaplin’s works for less than what I paid for my first print of THE GOLD RUSH, he’s going to whine that there’s a concerted effort by “them” to keep him from Chaplin’s true art. The joke is that that route leads to madness, because there are so many variables to Chaplin prints, so many different takes, so many different versions, you could never cut all that footage: multiple takes, variant footage of like shots, material Chaplin never wanted in there in the first place, that one could not cut it all together into a “definitive “ version and get nothing but a jumbled mess. Even if he came upon a brand new, struck off the original negative and hidden away and never shown original American release First National print of SHOULDER ARMS, it would be missing material that was in one of the films several alternate surviving versions. So instead of enjoying the pleasure of coming upon another print of A DOG’S LIFE ( I have three myself, each one different and unique) and being happy to see something new in it after having seen the film how many zillion times, he makes himself miserable wanting something he never can have. Pathetic.

So your answer remains: ain’t you lucky to have so many different prints of THE BLACKSMITH to see? Count your blessings and enjoy what comes before you, stop making lists and worrying about what is or is not “authentic”, original”, “definitive”, or “absolute”. Nobody was concerned at the time, why should you be now?

RICHARD M ROBERTS

Richard Warner
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2010 5:31 am

Re: Keaton's The Blacksmith

Postby Richard Warner » Thu Jun 17, 2010 4:43 am

Thanks for the crash course, Richard. In my ignorance, I thought that - Chaplin apart - there was a domestic negative, a foreign negative and that was it. Now that I know better, I can see that my Grand Initial Posting was, to say the least, pathetic. I just KNEW I'd be out of my depth here. Must try harder.....
Richard W.

Richard M Roberts
Godfather
Posts: 1865
Joined: Sun May 31, 2009 6:30 pm

Re: Keaton's The Blacksmith

Postby Richard M Roberts » Thu Jun 17, 2010 6:06 am

Richard Warner wrote:Thanks for the crash course, Richard. In my ignorance, I thought that - Chaplin apart - there was a domestic negative, a foreign negative and that was it. Now that I know better, I can see that my Grand Initial Posting was, to say the least, pathetic. I just KNEW I'd be out of my depth here. Must try harder.....
Richard W.



Oh no, not at all, this is how one learns, and questions are the ony way one does so. And sometime in order to truly learn something, one first has to first unlearn a lot of bad preconceptions from what has come before. There is so much twaddle in the last seventy years of Film History, and a lot of it is in terms of Silent Comedy. Somebody makes a grand nonsense pronouncement like James Agee saying "there were three Kings of Comedy in Silent Film" , and most people will just be happy to parrott that because it's easier than thinking for oneself and looking at a heck of a lot of movies and doing a lot of digging in order to figure it out for themselves. He was just a critic for cryin' out loud! And the longer the parrotting goes on, the more ingrained the misinformation becomes, then those who have been taking it as gospel get kinda cranky when you show up and tell them they're wrong. Kinda like religion and definitely kinda like what happened on that other minor comedy newsgroup a year or so ago. There is so much richness in the Comedy Film Industry, it's just a pity to put those kind of blinders on and limit yourself so tightly, you miss so much good comedy.

But do not fear, there's no "depth" here, and it's all really just about watching funny old movies made by a lot of dead people, nothing that really matters to 99.9999999999999999999999999999998 percent of the rest of the World. And feel free to question and argue what doesn't make sense to you, politely if possible, and we'll argue back as politely as we can.

RICHARD M ROBERTS

Paul E. Gierucki
Godfather
Posts: 222
Joined: Sun May 31, 2009 4:23 pm

Re: Keaton's The Blacksmith

Postby Paul E. Gierucki » Thu Jun 17, 2010 5:30 pm

Richard W,

You are welcome to post on any topic here! We are not nearly as menacing as we might appear,
I clock in at 6'5" tall, Richard at a whopping 6'8", all questions and comments are welcome.
The Mafia protects its own.

-- Paul E. Gierucki

(Great, now I have The Friendly Giant theme song stuck in my head...)

Richard Warner
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2010 5:31 am

Re: Keaton's The Blacksmith

Postby Richard Warner » Fri Jun 18, 2010 5:15 am

Thanks for the kind words, Paul. I'm only a 6'2'' midget myself, but I'll try to grow taller. Anyway, I'm learning all the time. Chaplin's the one in the flat hat, right?
Richard W.

Ben Model
Capo
Posts: 26
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 10:51 pm

Re: Keaton's The Blacksmith

Postby Ben Model » Fri Jun 18, 2010 2:15 pm

Is there any print with a shot that explains why the horseshoe over the shop is magnetized?

Ben (under 6', esp when standing next to Carli...)

Richard Warner
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2010 5:31 am

Re: Keaton's The Blacksmith

Postby Richard Warner » Sat Jun 19, 2010 9:52 am

Ben Model wrote:Is there any print with a shot that explains why the horseshoe over the shop is magnetized?

Ben (under 6', esp when standing next to Carli...)


Ben, it's not a horseshoe, it's a giant horseshoe magnet. Which is why it's magnetized. You can still buy horseshoe magnets on Amazon and eBay. It's a very Sennettesque prop, so perhaps it was Mal St Clair's idea. In fact, this unique transcription of the actual gag session for The Blacksmith would seem to confirm this:
MAL: Here's a great idea for a terrific gag sequence. We have this huge horseshoe magnet over the shop and...
BUSTER: Magnet? Why would a magnet be there?
MAL: Because it's shaped like a horseshoe, that's why. Anyway...
BUSTER: Whoa! Wait a minute. I don't understand the motivation...
MAL: Motivation? Motivation? That's your trouble, Keaton. You're motivation crazy. Over at Sennett, we don't even worry about plots, for Chrissakes!
BUSTER: Well, it's just that there's this silent film accompanist called Ben Model who's gonna be asking the same question in 2010.
MAL: Oh yeah? And there's another guy named Richard Roberts who says we just don't worry about these things here in 1922. You wanna prove him wrong? He's much bigger than Ben Model.
BUSTER: How big, Mal?
MAL: 6'8''.
BUSTER: Okay. The magnet gag goes in.

Richard W.

Richard M Roberts
Godfather
Posts: 1865
Joined: Sun May 31, 2009 6:30 pm

Re: Keaton's The Blacksmith

Postby Richard M Roberts » Sat Jun 19, 2010 12:15 pm

Richard Warner wrote:
Ben Model wrote:Is there any print with a shot that explains why the horseshoe over the shop is magnetized?

Ben (under 6', esp when standing next to Carli...)


Ben, it's not a horseshoe, it's a giant horseshoe magnet. Which is why it's magnetized. You can still buy horseshoe magnets on Amazon and eBay. It's a very Sennettesque prop, so perhaps it was Mal St Clair's idea. In fact, this unique transcription of the actual gag session for The Blacksmith would seem to confirm this:
MAL: Here's a great idea for a terrific gag sequence. We have this huge horseshoe magnet over the shop and...
BUSTER: Magnet? Why would a magnet be there?
MAL: Because it's shaped like a horseshoe, that's why. Anyway...
BUSTER: Whoa! Wait a minute. I don't understand the motivation...
MAL: Motivation? Motivation? That's your trouble, Keaton. You're motivation crazy. Over at Sennett, we don't even worry about plots, for Chrissakes!
BUSTER: Well, it's just that there's this silent film accompanist called Ben Model who's gonna be asking the same question in 2010.
MAL: Oh yeah? And there's another guy named Richard Roberts who says we just don't worry about these things here in 1922. You wanna prove him wrong? He's much bigger than Ben Model.
BUSTER: How big, Mal?
MAL: 6'8''.
BUSTER: Okay. The magnet gag goes in.

Richard W.



Hey, it could have been the idea of my shirttail cousin, Big Joe Roberts, who worked on that picture.

RICHARD M ROBERTS

Richard Finegan
Associate
Posts: 71
Joined: Fri Feb 05, 2010 6:01 am

Re: Keaton's The Blacksmith

Postby Richard Finegan » Sun Jun 20, 2010 2:32 am

Richard Warner wrote: Now that I know better, I can see that my Grand Initial Posting was, to say the least, pathetic. I just KNEW I'd be out of my depth here. Must try harder.....
Richard W.

Pathetic??
Certainly NOT!
Why, your initial question was more interesting and informative than most answers one would find elsewhere! And your question provided us with Richard's great (and again very informative) answer. So it was a good question! Keep 'em coming!


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