41. Buster Keaton
THE GENERAL, SHERLOCK JR., SEVEN CHANCES, OUR HOSPITALITY, STEAMBOAT BILL JR.
Buster Keaton may be known primarily as a brilliant physical comedian, but he was also part scientist. He was fascinated with the idea of mechanism, and he viewed film as a prime opportunity to experiment. In films like Sherlock Jr. and The Playhouse, Keaton exhibited an almost childlike glee in being able to use filmmaking and the camera as a way of tricking his audience. He understood better than most directors of his time (perhaps even some directors now) just how powerful “the frame” can be. And, when paired with this amazing new concept called “editing,” the possibilities seemed endless. Keaton could have used his techniques to create brilliant drama or fascinating science fiction, but he was committed to comedy. Where other producers and directors viewed comedy as a crass way to make a cheap buck, Keaton saw it for what it was: an undervalued art form with almost limitless potential. The result is some of the best, most timeless, comedy that film has ever known.
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