An intimate but enthusiastic crowd gathered at Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center for our third annual Evening With Buster Keaton on Saturday, April 21, 2012.
Folks began arriving early and browsed the display of Buster Keaton posters, pictures, and other Busterabilia. While they took their seats, they took in a slide show highlighting events from Buster's life and career. At 6:00 sharp, we warmed up with a fabulous musical montage from YouTube.
The program then began in earnest, starting with Buster's nautical misadventures in the 1921 short, The Boat. Delighted laughter filled the room as we saw Buster and screen wife Sybil Seely try to keep their boys afloat in their home made house boat. Buster's own words proved themselves true: "Comics do funny things. Great comics do things funny."
When the applause died down, we moved to the lobby for refreshments. Kids and adults dove in to chips, pretzels, trail mix, popcorn, cookies, and a wide array of drinks. Then it was back to the screening room for the 1928 feature, Steamboat Bill Jr.
Folks loved big, cantankerous Steamboat Bill's reactions to his son Willie, whom he hasn't seen since infancy. Bill's efforts to transform the effete little fop into a robust river man were as hilarious as they were futile. The excitement built as the audience howled with laughter at Buster's cyclone struggles and gasped with astonishment at his athletic stunts.
The original accompaniment by local keyboardist Brandon King highlighted every nuance and won him a thunderous round of applause as the show came to an end.
Afterward, guests were wowed by the beautiful fruit, veggie, and meat and cheese trays set out for the closing reception. We were thrilled by the compliments we got from guests, who expressed delight and an eagerness to come back next year. People were reluctant to leave, and those of us hosting the event basked in the glow of our success even as we began anticipating next year.
The donation of $5 for the event included both films and all refreshments.
Keep watching this blog for updates about next year's Evening With Buster Keaton.