The Keaton Shorts of 1920

One Week (1920)

A newly married couple builds a house together. A mixup with the boxes result in a house that looks like it’s out of cubist painting. Instead of fixing it, the couple decides to just live in it as it is. Hilarity ensues, life becomes a train-wreck, love prevails! Probably my favorite Keaton short.

Convict 13 (1920)

This film gets off to a slow start. The opening golf stuff has a few funny gags, but it’s not that strong. However, the later prison stuff is hilarious. Probably the best scene is when Keaton goes to be hanged and all the convicts are watching eating peanuts and popcorn. It’s commentary on the morbid nature of media consumption, or something like that.

Scarecrow (1920)

Early on, the real star of the film is the set design with the crazy house. It’s not as funny as it is impressive. Later on, the laughs start. The whole dog chase as well as the scarecrow stuff is hilarious. Also, watching Keaton handstand across a stream is pretty impressive. Not as impressive or funny as the best of his shorts, but it’s up there.

Neighbors (1920)

Consistently funny gags and some of the athletic moments in this film are absolutely astounding. Watching Keaton zip between buildings from clothes likes or stand atop two men is not only funny, it’s awe-inspiring. It’s basically the plot of Our Hospitality within one back yard.

© 2013 James Blake Ewing

  • There are some real gems amongst the early Keaton shorts. One Week is definitely one of my favorites. The Playhouse is another great one, and The Boat is probably my favorite.

    I hate to admit it, but I was really “meh” about The Scarecrow. You’re right- it’s all about the set design in that one.

    • James Blake Ewing

      Yea, THE SCARECROW is a bit uneven. I liked it more on a second viewing but it’s certainly one of the Keaton that falls in the middle for me.

      I’m definitely going to check out more Keaton shorts. I’ve decided to space it out some, maybe another round next month, to give this feature a bit of variety.

  • One Week is absolutely one of my faves. It’s just so creative from start to finish with some amazing stunt work. Keaton is definitely one of my all time favorites. I’ve caught a bunch of his shorts, but still managed to only see one of the ones you’ve reviewed here. Lots of watching yet to do.

    • James Blake Ewing

      One Week is the best of the lot. If you like that one, definitely check out Neighbors.