Buster Keaton
Goes to Timor
kv-rp logo

Upper River Hall, Kangaroo Valley, 7.30pm Sat Aug 2 2003

a fund-raiser for the Kangaroo Valley-Remexio Partnership,
this show featured several hilarious Buster Keaton silent films
accompanied live by pianist
Robert Constable


also on the bill: the première of the locally-made film
Dirty Dan the Pump-Out Man !!

people received, on arrival, a free cup of warming gluwein
made to a wondrous, secret recipe by Chris Nobel;
and supper was provided at interval

tickets, $20 and $10 (concession), were available from Kangaroo Valley Newsagency, Moss Vale Rd

the event was
*** SOLD OUT !! ***

Buster Keaton films shown: One Week The Haunted House The Navigator

inquiries: e-mail Martin Wesley-Smith (mwsmith@shoalhaven.net.au) or call (02) 44 651 299

report review unsolicited post-event e-mails received

program notes

Keaton bio | Constable bio | One Week | The Haunted House | The Navigator | Dirty Dan | KV-RP | top

Buster Keaton


When only a few months old, (Buster Keaton) nearly suffocated after being accidentally shut in a costume trunk off stage while his mother and father performed, an incident that encouraged his parents to begin leaving him at whatever boarding house they were residing in. According to family legend, the Keatons then escaped from a series of fires and train wrecks that would have destroyed a less charmed family.

Finally, on one harrowing day when he was nearly three: Buster caught his right forefinger in a clothes wringer, losing the first joint, gashed his head near the eye with a brick that boomeranged after he threw it at a peach tree and was sucked out of an upstairs window by a passing cyclone that carried him floating through the air and conveniently deposited him, unhurt, in the middle of a street a few blocks away.

After that, his parents decided he'd be safer on stage ...

(read more here)

born 4 October 1895 in Piqua, Kansas, as Joseph Frank Keaton Jr.
married to actress Natalie Talmadge; two sons; divorced
married in 1930s; divorced
married Eleanor Ruth Norris in 1940; together until Buster's death on February 1 1966 of lung cancer

began in vaudeville with father Joe Keaton and mother Myra Keaton in 1896
began film work in 1917 for Comique

from http://www.touchstone.freeserve.co.uk/keaton/about.html:

Buster Keaton was one of the greatest screen comedians the world has ever seen.

Born in 1895 when film-making was in its infancy, by the end of the 1920s he had become the most versatile star of the silent era. Actor, comedian, stuntman, writer, director. He excelled at them all.

The most graceful of actors, his films are filled with wonderful moments, from deceptively simple but effective gags through to elaborate and life threatening stunts. He was a pioneer in the use of special effects, appearing on-screen simultaneously nine times in The Playhouse (1921).

By the end of the 1920s he had appeared in over 20 shorts and a dozen features, among them some of the greatest comedies ever seen. The General, his 1926 masterpiece, often appears in lists of the 'Top 100 Films Of All Time'.

At the start of the thirties, with changes in studio structures and the introduction of sound, Buster lost artistic control over his films. He became dependant on alcohol, and as the 1930s and 1940s passed he moved out of the public eye. He continued to make films, but nothing matched the quality of his early work.

During the fifties, with appearances on television and cameos in a handful of major studio films, interest in his silent films began to grow. Prints that hadn't been seen since the 1920s were unearthed and screened to enthusiastic audiences.

Just before his death in 1966, Buster Keaton was finally receiving the recognition he deserved.

see busterkeaton.com

Keaton | Constable | One Week | Haunted House | Navigator | Dirty Dan | KV-RP | top

Robert Constable

Robert has silent film music in his blood: at least three of his great-aunts and -uncles used to play professionally for the "silents" in the period following World War 1.

A well-known concert pianist and improviser, it was a natural transition for him to play for silent films. He started when a colleague asked if he could "have a go" for a fundraising event. He undertook his first concert performances accompanying silent films about five years ago; since then his "shows" have been in demand.

When he's not playing for silent films, Robert is Professor and Dean of Music at the University of Newcastle's Conservatorium.

Keaton | Constable | One Week | Haunted House | Navigator | Dirty Dan | KV-RP | top

One Week [1920, 18']

directed by Edward F. Cline and Buster Keaton; written by Edward F. Cline (also story)
technical direction by Fred Gabourie; cinematography by Elgin Lessley; editing by Buster Keaton; produced by Joseph M. Schenck
cast: Buster Keaton as the groom, Joe Roberts as the piano mover and Sybil Seely as the bride

Buster and Sybil are newlyweds who receive a portable house that can be put together in one week. Buster's nemesis and one of Sybil's admirers switches the numbers on the crates containing the house parts.

from At-A-Glance Film Reviews:

Decades before Jackie Chan, Buster Keaton was famous for his often perilous physical comedy and dangerous stunts. This short film is the one that contains the infamous wall-falling scene, where Buster is saved from certain doom by a well-placed window. There are no stunt doubles, camera tricks, or fancy prop gadgets -- the gag happened just as it appears, and had Keaton been standing a few inches the wrong way, the results might have been fatal. Now that's a dedicated comedian.

Though imperfect, One Week is one of Keaton's best shorts, its only flaw (a minor one, at that) the overlong storm scene. There's an abundance of truly classic American comedy here. Besides the famous stunt described above, watch for his hysterical creative solutions to his problems -- getting up on the roof, moving his house, etc. Not to be missed.

Keaton | Constable | One Week | Haunted House | Navigator | Dirty Dan | KV-RP | top

The Haunted House [1921, 20' 35"]

written and directed by Edward F. Cline and Buster Keaton
technical direction by Fred Gabourie; cinematography by Elgin Lessley; produced by Joseph M. Schenck
cast: Edward F. Cline as the customer in the bank, Virginia Fox as the bank president's daughter, Buster Keaton as the bank clerk and Joe Roberts as the bank cashier
two reels; produced by Comique Film Corporation, distributed by Metro Pictures; released February 10 1921

Buster is a bank clerk. Overturned glue gets everything, mostly the money, stuck to everything else. When robbers show up he can't "stick 'em up" because his hands are stuck in his pockets. The robbers' hideout is a haunted house designed to scare off police.

Keaton | Constable | One Week | Haunted House | Navigator | Dirty Dan | KV-RP | top

The Navigator [1924, 59']

written by Clyde Bruckman and Jean C. Havez; directed by Donald Crisp and Buster Keaton
cast: Buster Keaton as Rollo Treadway, Kathryn McGuire as Betsy O'Brien, and Frederick Vroom as John O'Brien
six reels; produced by Buster Keaton Productions Inc., distributed by Metro Pictures; released October 13 1924

from http://us.imdb.com/M/title-exact?Navigator,+The+(1924) (Lugosi31):

Rollo Treadway (Buster Keaton) is a very rich young man and he asks Betsy O'Brien (Kathryn McGuire) to marry him. She refuses, and, eventually, they both end up on a 500-foot yacht, the Navigator, alone. After an unintentional (and amusing) hide-and-seek, they find each other and learn to live without servants, miles from home. All goes rather well until land is sighted, for cannibals inhabit the island. After many attempts at warding them off, the man-eaters are closing in ... You should definitely see this film if you are a fan of Buster Keaton or of silent comedy in general. In some scenes, I could not stop laughing. Surely, the same effect will be produced in future viewers.

Keaton | Constable | One Week | Haunted House | Navigator | Dirty Dan | KV-RP | top

Dirty Dan the Pump-Out Man [2003, 11']

written by Peter Wesley-Smith; directed, shot and edited by Martin Wesley-Smith
starring Paul Turnock as Dirty Dan and Helen George as Fluff the Magic Virgin
one DVC; produced by POOP (Pump Out Our Productions), distributed by car; to be released Aug 2 2003

world première!!
dirty dan

Dirty Dan absconds with Kangaroo Valley's last-remaining Virgin. Pursued by angry townsfolk, the lovers leap from Hampden Bridge into Kangaroo River's raging icy torrent! Will they survive? Did the actors survive?? Gee ... hard to say - they haven't been seen since ...

"Possibly one of the finest films to have been produced in Kangaroo Valley so far this month"
[local film critic Ken Park]

Dirty Dan:
Bryan Barger:
Esther Barger:

special FX:
voice-over, best boy:
musical improvisations:
camera, editing:
thanks be to:

in the making of this film there was:
Paul Turnock
Helen George
John George
"Li'l Rippa"
Bryan Barger
Esther Barger
citizens of Kangaroo Valley,
including passers-by, eager would-be film stars,
East Timor supporters, and one very clever doglet
Terry Hennessy, assisted by Chris Nobel
Peter Stanton
Terry Hennessy, Libby Turnock, Paul Turnock
Helen George, Paul Turnock
Helen George
Robert Constable
Peter Wesley-Smith
Martin Wesley-Smith
Bryan & Esther Barger of the Kangaroo Valley Post Office
Tom & Michael Rehkopf of the Kangaroo Valley Newsagency
Keith Learn of Valley Woodcrafts
John & Helen Bacon of Red Shed Rural Supplies

no cruelty to animals;
no resemblance to any person living, deceased, or as yet unborn;
no cholesterol;
no talent, integrity, or originality;
no product placement;
no previous experience;
no offence intended or taken;
no plagiarism, theft, or breach of any law, more or less (mainly less); and
no casting couch (except for the role of the Virgin)

Keaton | Constable | One Week | Haunted House | Navigator | Dirty Dan | KV-RP | top

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The Kangaroo Valley-Remexio Partnership

After the destruction and killing which swept East Timor in September 1999, a small group of KV residents felt a need to do something. A partnership was discussed with an East Timorese village and the Kangaroo Valley-Remexio Partnership was formed. Now three years on, we have a mix of vital local and district people working with many East Timorese in Australia and East Timor.

Remexio is a small village in the hills about one hour's drive south of Dili.

The KV-RP is a "bottom up" or "grass roots" approach to helping the East Timorese help themselves. We hope to assist the East Timorese achieve dignified living through health, education, justice and ecologically sustainable industry. We selectively try to help in ways that are different from those of the UN and other NGOs.

Rather than large single projects, we pursue a multitude of small, personal and usually integrated activities. Being substantially self-funded, and consistent with our philosophy, our material contributions are small. Instead, we rely on sharing our existing skills in day to day situations.

We pursue long-term personal relationships with the East Timorese and actively encourage this approach in others. That part which is conducted in Australia is the provision of education and training to those who have appropriate interests and aptitudes for leadership and mentoring roles back in East Timor.

We now enjoy the beginnings of likely long-term relationships with numerous on-going activities. In addition, much of our involvement is outside of Remexio, in other parts of East Timor, as well as in active networking within Australia. Along the way we have tried to identify the best and worst of our respective Australian and East Timorese lifestyles, to better influence both our paths into the future.

Remexio kids left: kids in Remexio, March 2002


KV-RP is largely self-funded but donations are always very helpful. If made to "AFAP KV-Remexio Partnership" they will be tax deductible (AFAP - Australian Foundation for the Peoples of Asia and the Pacific Ltd - is our umbrella group, which is recognised by the ATO for tax deductibility).

We cover all our own expenses such as air fares, accommodation etc as well as all administration overheads. 100% of funds raised from the public go directly towards helping the East Timorese and are fully accounted for. Donors may request that their funds be directed towards particular areas of their own special interest, such as health, education, etc.

For more information, see http://www.shoal.net.au/~easttimor/. In addition, Bella's café in Kangaroo Valley has a display of photographs illustrating some of our work.

Paul Turnock (02 4465 1357)

Keaton bio | Constable bio | One Week | The Haunted House | The Navigator | Dirty Dan | KV-RP | top


It was a wonderful night, the audience responding positively, in great spirit, to each item on the program. Robert Constable provided a brilliant accompaniment, with quotes from pieces as diverse as "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" and "Thus Spake Zarathustra" woven seamlessly into music that always supported and enhanced the films. As a result of his and many other people's generosity, we raised over $2000 for East Timor. Many thanks to all who assisted: members of the Kangaroo Valley-Remexio Partnership (organisation, supper, equipment, gluwein etc), The University of Newcastle (equipment), and, especially, Robert Constable (he provided his services and expenses free of charge).

Martin Wesley-Smith, Sun Aug 03 2003

a review:

The "Buster Keaton Goes to Timor" film show last Saturday night was a great success. And what a great night it was! Film buffs from far and wide packed Upper River Hall for a selection of Buster Keaton silent films accompanied by excellent pianist Robert Constable. But for most people - especially for this reviewer - the highlight of the evening was the new Kangaroo Valley film "Dirty Dan the Pump-Out Man"!

We all laughed ourselves sick as the dreaded and dreadful Dirty Dan (artfully, and with great style, played by Paul Turnock) absconded with the delightful Fluff the Magic Virgin (Helen George in a stunning debut on the silver screen), only to be forced, by the pursuing mob of angry townsfolk, to leap from Hampden Bridge.

There were two problems, however: [1] the script called for Fluff to leap too, causing the audience great consternation; and [2] the film makers obviously had no idea how to finish the thing, so they turned it into part one of a serial. It seems that we'll all have to wait for the next episode to find out what happened in the end. Generally, though, it was a cinematic triumph, possibly one of the finest films to have been produced in Kangaroo Valley so far this month.

I was lucky enough to be given a sneak preview as it turned out that I had to be elsewhere and couldn't actually get there on the night. Many thanks to the Voice for allowing me - due to copy deadline problems - to submit this review beforehand.

Ken Park, Sat July 26 2003

from post-event e-mails received:

1. "I went to the Buster Keaton film night ... it was amazing! I really needed the laugh and it was sheer pure fun ... Having the music live was another masterstroke - from the angle I was sitting, Robert's back was in the darkness and the small lamp illuminated his hands, beyond lay the screen. It was truly a classic memorable night. I overheard people commenting on having a great night the next morning near the Bella Cafe."

2. "It was a great night. For us, it was worth all your work; we hope it was worth it for you. The music really made the Buster Keaton films. Robert Constable did it very well and the films were much funnier because of it ... Am looking forward to the sequel (of "Dirty Dan"); another film with the two newly discovered and talented stars enhanced by judicious editing ..."

3. "Chris the mulled wine was just gorgeous ... Terry the dummies were just incredible, if only Paul Turnock was that good looking, such a lot of work and spectacular results. Martin, who'd have thought such a creative mind could not only direct but pull off such a smooth and well oiled performance, the bats were a touch of genius and trained in such a short time. It all went so well and was such a pleasure to sit back and watch. And Peter, such profound and provoking words, even though everyone else thinks you are a slack bastard and left the ship, I recognized your genius all over that dirty movie. Congrats to you all, laugh? thought I'd never stop ..."

4. "It really was quite amazing. The creativity was striking ... the night was a tour de force of cooperative creativity - incredible when one reflects that the whole night emerged from the human mind ... ideas and energy ... it was brilliant to assimilate the KV community into Keaton's slapstick. I loved the written quips between scenes and the masterstroke of fusing film and reality ... plus the plus of live music. Terrific to make it an annual event."

Back from the brink!

Fluff pulls Dan off
the bridge ...

[click the photo for a
larger, better view]

photo: Peter Stanton


Upper River Hall, Kangaroo Valley, 7.30pm, Sat Aug 2 2003

inquiries: e-mail Martin Wesley-Smith (mwsmith@shoalhaven.net.au) or call (02) 44 651 299

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