RIP Richard Matheson

I’m not a real science fiction junkie, but I am a Twilight Zone nerd; those shows were some of the first ways I started thinking about things in a more complicated, maybe even existential, way. & Matheson wrote some of the best of them: Nightmare at 20,000 Feet (which was in both the TV series and in the movie), The Invaders (one of the very few TV shows with no dialogue at all), Little Girl Lost (which is basis for Poltergeist), Death Ship (super creepy, and starting Jack Klugman), and to me, the very special Once Upon a Time, which starred none other than Buster Keaton.

Here’s one of my all-time favorites, A World of Difference. It brought what Pirandello was after to the American TV audience, imho.

You can watch all of the episodes he wrote or which were based on his stories for free on hulu.

New Buster

Damfinos: there’s a new cut of Steamboat Bill Jr. Imagine, after all these years, different camera angles, and a cleaner & sharper print. Yay.

buster keaton

Also, there’s a new DVD of all the Educational Pictures pictures, or shorts, most of them with his character Elmer (I prefer the “almost supernatural figure of beauty and grace in the silents,” as the NYT’s reviewer put it, but any Buster is still Buster.)

For those of you who don’t know, Houdini is credited with naming Buster. He was visiting with the Keatons, who were a vaudeville troupe, when infant/toddler Buster fell down a flight of stairs and landed with that stone face. Houdini, looking on, said “that’s quite a buster,” & thus, Buster Keaton was born. Houdini was born here in Appleton, and the Keatons used to summer in Muskegon, Michigan, where the annual Damfino conference takes place. So apparently I’ve come to some version of the right part of the world.

What Damfinos Do Know

The other night on Olbermann, I caught the tail end of him telling a story about Buster Keaton – except that I didn’t hear the beginning. Luckily, I found the transcript:

First, on this date in 1895 was born actor Nigel Bruce famed as Dr.  Watson to Basil Rathbone‘s Sherlock Holmes.  But it was on the set of the movie “Limelight” that Bruce and co-start Norman Lloyd got to watch unmatched film history.  As star and director Charlie Chaplin filmed himself in a complicated bit of business, Bruce and Lloyd heard someone whispering “just to your left, Charlie.  Your center frame, Charlie.”

Finally Bruce realized it was another co-star, legendary comic Buster Keaton, whispering guidance to Chaplin.  My god, Bruce mumbled, we‘re watching Keaton direct Chaplin.

A Damfino (that’s what us Keaton fans are called) can not fail to remind you that Chaplin cut most of Buster’s scenes out of Limelight. Fucker.