The Third Kangaroo Valley
Buster Keaton Film Festival
kv-rp logo

Upper River Hall, Kangaroo Valley
7.30pm Saturday September 3 2005

a fund-raiser for the Kangaroo Valley-Remexio Partnership,
this unique event follows two hugely successful previous festivals

a family show (kids generally love silent movies),
it will feature several hilarious Buster Keaton silent films as well as a film by Charlie Chaplin
accompanied live by pianist
Robert Constable


Arrive early with your own mug and receive a free, warming gluhwein!
Free supper at interval!!

tickets: $20, $10 (concession) from Kangaroo Valley Newsagency, Moss Vale Rd
proceeds to projects in East Timor

inquiries: e-mail Martin Wesley-Smith ( or call (02) 44 651 299

the program

7.30pm Saturday September 3 2005
Upper River Hall
Kangaroo Valley

The Scarecrow (1920)
Buster Keaton
with Joe Roberts and Cybil Seely

The Cure (1917)
Charlie Chaplin


Our Hospitality (1923)
Buster Keaton
with Joe Roberts, Natalie Talmadge, Joe Keaton et al

program notes

Keaton | Constable | The Scarecrow | The Cure | Our Hospitality | 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


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.


Keaton | Constable | The Scarecrow | The Cure | Our Hospitality | 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 | The Scarecrow | The Cure | Our Hospitality | KV-RP | top

The Scarecrow [1920, 20']

written and directed by Edward F. Cline and Buster Keaton
technical direction by Fred Gabourie; cinematography by Elgin Lessley
presented and produced by Joseph M. Schenck
cast: Buster Keaton as a farmhand; Joe Roberts, farmhand; Joe Keaton, farmer; Edward F. Cline, hit-and-run truck driver; Sybil Seely, farmer's daughter; Mary Astor; and Al St. John


This very funny short comedy is an excellent example of Keaton's amazing inventiveness, and it deserves to be one of his best-remembered short features. The first part is especially good, and has to be seen to be appreciated - it's just Buster and a roommate going about their daily routine in a house filled with wacky gadgets and all kinds of unexpected features. There's a lot of great material, much more than you can catch all at once. It would be hard for the rest of it to live up to the first part, but it is pretty good, too - lots of slapstick and chases, plus the actual "Scarecrow" scene. This one is a bit more piecemeal than most of his comedies, but all of the material is very good. Most fans of silent comedies will really enjoy this movie.

by Snow Leopard from Ohio


The Scarecrow, one of Keaton's earliest independent shorts, is a brilliant, fast-moving gag-fest. This film contains much of the classic Keaton material that placed him up with Chaplin and Lloyd.

This is perhaps Keaton's first foray into mechanical gags involving elaborate devices and contraptions for making daily life easier. The film begins with Buster and Joe Roberts eating dinner. The wire and handles suspended above provides everything they could possibly need--salt, pepper, drink, napkin - all just a cord yank away.

Later, the plot focuses on the love-triangle between the boys and a neighboring farmer's pretty dancing daughter (Sybil Seely). The farmer (played by Buster's dad, Joe) doesn't like any of the three, and the remainder of the film follows the familiar Keaton theme where Buster struggles against all odds to get the girl.

The second half of the short is highlighted by the delightful & truly amazing antics of the farmer's dog (which looks strangely like Fatty Arbuckle's dog). It chases and tears at the seat of Buster's pants, it climbs up and then back down a 20-foot ladder in pursuit of its stone-face prey and more ...

Buster's antics are no less amazing, however, as he donnes the scarecrow garb to avoid his pursuers, walks across a stream ON HIS HANDS (no faking here), and is sucked up in the reaper and is stripped of his clothes and baled with the wheat.

In the closing scene, Buster's kneeling to tie his shoe is taken as an proposal which Sybil immediately accepts, leaving our confused hero happy but confused.


Keaton | Constable | The Scarecrow | The Cure | Our Hospitality | KV-RP | top

The Cure [1917, 20']

produced by Henry P. Caulfield and Charles Chaplin
cinematography by Roland Totheroh
film editing by Charles Chaplin
property master: George Cleethorpe; assistant property master: Dan Allen
technical director: Ed Brewer; assistant camera: George C. 'Duke' Zalibra
written by Vincent Bryan, Charles Chaplin and Maverick Terrell
original story by Charles Chaplin
directed by Charles Chaplin
cast: Charles Chaplin as The Inebriate; Edna Purviance, The Girl; Eric Campbell, Man With Gout; Henry Bergman; Masseur, John Rand, James T. Kelley and Albert Austin, Sanitarium Attendants; Frank J. Coleman, Head of Sanitarium, Leota Bryan, Nurse; Janet Miller Sully, Woman; Loyal Underwood and Tom Wood, Patients


Chaplin is a wealthy inebriate drying out at a sanitarium when his secret liquor stash gets dumped in the mineral spring. Among many outstanding scenes is Charlie's effort to avoid the joint-wrenching massage therapy of his long-time sidekick, Henry Bergman.

Very simply the most hysterical of all his Mutuals! Charlie is not only inebriated throughout his stay in rehab but makes sure everyone in the place gets crocked too! A masterpiece! A riot! You'll laugh until you wet your pants!

Keaton | Constable | The Scarecrow | The Cure | Our Hospitality | KV-RP | top

Our Hospitality [1923, 74']

written by Clyde Bruckman, Jean Havez and Joseph Mitchell
directed by Jack Blystone and Buster Keaton
technical direction by Fred Gabourie; cinematography by Gordon Jennings and Elgin Lessley
costume design by Walter J. Israel; art direction by Fred Gabourie presented and produced by Joseph M. Schenck
stunt coordination by Chick Collins and Ernie Orsatti stunts by Buster Keaton cast: Buster Keaton as Willie McKay (21 years old); Buster Keaton Jr as Willie McKay (1 year old); Joe Roberts, Joseph Canfield; Ralph Bushman, Clayton Canfield; Monte Collins, The Parson; Joe Keaton, The Engineer; Kitty Bradbury, Aunt Mary; Craig Ward, Lee Canfield; and Natalie Talmadge, Virginia Canfield; also Erwin Connelly, Edward Coxen, James Duffy, Jean Dumas and Tom London


This is a costume-period piece set in 1830s Kentucky. The Canfields and the McKays are feuding clans (essentially the real life Hatfields and McCoys renamed). In New York Willie McKay boards a train (an exact recreation of the original "Stephenson Rocket") to return to his Appalachian homestead. On board he meets and falls for Virginia Canfield (the actress is Buster's real life wife). His problem is that her family has vowed to kill every member of his family. The dramatic waterfall rescue near the end is performed by Buster himself.

During the shooting of the climatic waterfall scene, Buster Keaton inhaled so much water that he had to have first aid.

During the filming of the scene in which Buster Keaton is being swept downstream towards the waterfall, he was attached to a 'holdback' cable, concealed in the river. During the filming of the scene, the cable broke, and he was hurled down the rapids, battered by rocks and limbs, and was only barely able to grab an overhanging branch, which held him just long enough for the crew to reach and rescue him. This scene remains in the final print, and is fairly easy to spot. Just look for the point at which Keaton is being pulled downriver and 1) he suddenly looks back towards the camera, and 2) his speed in the water doubles, almost causing him to fly out of frame.

The climactic waterfall rescue scenes were filmed on a set built over the swimming pool on the Keaton lot. Production stills kept secret until decades after the film was released show the entire set, including the miniature valley constructed below the pool for the long overlooking shots.

Joe Roberts, Buster Keaton's career "heavy", made his last appearance in this film. Big Joe suffered a stroke during the filming, and was hospitalized. He insisted on returning to work, however, and died very shortly after the end of filming.

A review by delnaja

Keaton is at his best when he plays with trains; he also excels at physical stunts, often at great physical risk to himself (and some of the other actors). So here, both of these elements are present. Just look at some of the stunts. For instance, when Keaton and the male actor go falling down the cliff, falling over one to two-hundred feet below into the water. Or, specifically, when he has to time his swing to catch the girl before she plummets down the waterfall (this was real!). Not to mention, all of the risks he took with that log near the waterfall. It puts Lloyd to shame.

The train, too, is a real laugh riot. The start of the journey, where they bump up and down irregularly, is a hoot. Or all of the mishaps where they get off track, or get all sooty. Also, that bugler with the funny beard is hilarious.

The story, of course, relies on some idiotic Southern stereotypes; also, I think the servant is played by a "blackfaced" white actor. I cannot fault him for that, because of the era, but it does drag this film down a notch -- which is otherwise great. 8 out of 10.

A parody of the Hatfield-McCoy feud, by David Hoffman

There has never been a more comic use of a `train' (if the label is appropriate) than in this film. This is ingenuity at its finest, the most sustained comic sequence I've ever seen. Travelling from New York ca. 1830 to the Appalachians to claim an `estate', Keaton on this journey provides the highlight of the film-and what a highlight it is! From the bouncing actions of passengers to the lifting and moving of track, this series of images is non-stop pleasure. A dog, a hobo, a man throwing rocks at the engineer, a mule-all are inspired catalysts to laughter.

Once Keaton (a McKay) reaches his destination, the movie changes pace. And despite many good moments, especially those when Keaton has taken up `permanent residence' at the Canfields', the humor never reaches the level of the first portion of the film. Nonetheless, Keaton's genius is evident throughout the film, and it is this ability to innovate that constantly amazes.

Keaton's Craft, by harry-76

"Our Hospitality" displays the skill of Buster Keaton very admirably. After a somewhat slow start in the Prologue and beginning of the Story, the pace picks up and continues to become more and more interesting.

One appreciates the great care Keaton takes in setting up his compositions, noted for their clean lines and balanced geometric planes and forms. Images are nicely stuctured, and one gets a feeling of classically executed set designs, with room to breathe. The lines of the Keaton poems are not extended to the end; rather, room is left for the viewer to fill in phrase endings with personal responses.

This 1923 silent classic holds up quite well, and one notes the remarkable physical stunts Keaton pulls off, in the standard silent era custom of not using a double. The actual comedy comes off best with an audience: the phenemena of group laughter can be infectious, and this film can really take off in a full theater ...

Excellent Fun, by Piranian Rose

"Our Hospitality" is truly a work of art from the silent era. Buster Keaton amazed me with his stunts, which I dare say do not pale in comparison with those of Jackie Chan. The story is filled with wit and suspense. At times you laugh, at times you gasp, at times the world trembles as Keaton delivers death-defying stunts. This is one of the first silent movies I watched in its entirety, and I was thoroughly impressed with the film-making quality. While I wouldn't go as far as to prefer silent movies over their contemporary sound counterpart, I like how soundless movies invite you to pay particular attention to the facial expression - it's all there in the actor's face. I personally prefer "Our Hospitality" to Keaton's acclaimed "The General".

review by c_t

The movie is all situational humor, and there are plenty of good gags: Buster's head going up into his hat when the shaky train they're on bounces around, a dog chasing the train that gets derailed, Buster getting beat up by the woman he tries to rescue from her abusive husband, and a horse made up to look like a woman from behind. The silly "prologue" which is followed by the "story" is amusing, and there are a few sophisticated touches, as well, like the historical view of the two dirt roads that are Broadway and 42nd Street or the imaginary estate that explodes in Buster's mind when he sees the shack that is his inheritance. The ending is dangerous, as Buster falls over a cliff into water (with a visually striking image of him and his chaser coming up to the surface), then getting dragged by a train, then standing on two rail cars, then using a box that falls off the train as a boat. And we get panicky watching him swing over a waterfall to catch his love. Dummy or not, it's wild. 8/10

review by tedg

What can one say? Once again we have a film that in form goes against what it preaches: the moral of the story is that tribal groups should stop their mindless dehumanization of the "other." But it is done in a way that dehumanizes the South, still very much (at that time) lost in post-Civil War depression. Oh well, just ignore that common enough irony.

We do have a hilarious train ride, quite probably the model for much that followed. And we have the amazing waterfall stunt. There is a dummy involved in the catch, but otherwise these were the real stars involved. That knowledge amazes me. For me, exciting film is about risk and sometimes physical risk will suffice, as with Herzog. But this is amazing stuff.

Keaton's family members perform in delightful morality tale

This is one of Buster's best features. It's far more serious than any other film he ever made with its deadly feud and its plea for tolerance. It neatly divides in half, the first half on one of the first trains ever constructed, not a replica but a borrowed museum piece. The second half takes place at and around the home of his new girlfriend, trying to evade her murdering father and brothers.

The train journey is inspired and far funnier than the gags used in the later THE GENERAL ... What is most marvelous is that Keaton's father, Joe (the engineer), his son, Buster, Jr. (his character as an infant), and his wife, Natalie Talmadge (the girl, Mary), are all in the film with him.

Great gags in the train sequence: the dog keeping up with the slow moving train throughout the journey; the ruse of rock throwing to get free firewood; moving the track to go around a stubborn mule; getting off the track entirely and meandering down a country road.

Once in town, we have the classic attempted rescue of a woman from her abusive spouse only to be clobbered himself, his dream estate actually blowing up when confronted by the miserable truth, the sudden new waterfall that miraculously hides him from his foes, the indoor/outdoor chase to avoid being shot, the dog fetching the unwanted hat, the horse made up to look like the escaping Keaton disguised as a woman with an umbrella; the fall from the train into the stream and the nonchalant paddle as the car is turned into a boat; and of course the extraordinary precision of the final waterfall rescue.

This is a wonderfully inventive comedy and safely walks the line of making its serious points without bringing high spirits down. A must-see, especially as a double bill with his later, THE GENERAL.

Beautiful effort from the King, by Kiddman

This fine film represents one of the earlier attempts at "dramedy", long before the term was invented. The story has a highly realistic feel to it, yet the funny stuff is never far away ... The little train which takes Buster to Kentucky is a hoot, and THAT is based on the real 1830's deal, too. Movable, bumpy, flimsy tracks and a couple nutty characters and situations are highlights ... The story was strong and believable, and the climactic (and very dangerous) scenes at the river and waterfall were amazing ...



The Scarecrow

The Cure

Our Hospitality



reserve tickets by calling Martin Wesley-Smith on 4465 1299 or sending him an e-mail

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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

Paul Turnock (02 4465 1357)

Keaton | Constable | The Scarecrow | The Cure | Our Hospitality | KV-RP | top

a review of The First Kangaroo Valley Buster Keaton Film Festival ("Buster Keaton Goes to Timor"), Sat Aug 2 2003:

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 (about "Buster Keaton Goes to Timor"):

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


a review of The Second Kangaroo Valley Buster Keaton Film Festival, Sat Aug 28 2004:

On Friday August 27, a packed Upper River Hall thrilled to the further adventures of Dirty Dan the Pump-Out Man and his delicious young sweetheart Fluff the Magic Virgin. What a great night! The new Kangaroo Valley-made silent movie, "Dirty Dan: The Old Grey Mayor", features Dan (Paul Turnock) as the new Mayor of Kangaroo Council and Fluff (Helen George) as the Lady Mayoress. Local residents, having welcomed them enthusiastically, soon tire of their petty corruption and chase them out of town. Accompanied brilliantly by pianist Robert Constable, the movie provoked continuous laughter, particularly when Dan set out to disprove the adage "There's no such thing as a free lunch".

The occasion was the first night of "The Second Kangaroo Valley Buster Keaton Film Festival". Robert Constable repeated last year's success with superb accompaniments to all the movies shown (Buster Keaton's "Sherlock Junior" and "Cops" as well as both episodes of the Dirty Dan saga). The following night he did it all again, this time with different Keaton movies ("The Playhouse", "The Blacksmith" and "One Week"). His playing adds another level of humour to what's on screen as well as helping to maintain the drama. Much of the humour is abstract, with kids often seeing things that were missed by the adults. A real family night!

It is hoped that a silent film festival such as this will become an annual event, attracting devotees from far and wide. The Kangaroo Valley-Remexio Partnership, which mounted the festival to raise money for projects in East Timor, is to be congratulated for its initiative here.

I'm giving the event four and a half out of five! I'd give it five except I haven't actually seen it yet - these Valley Voice deadlines are impossible ...

Margaret Pomegranate

from post-event e-mails received (about The Second Kangaroo Valley Buster Keaton Film Festival):

"Congratulations on anther fine production, I laughed myself into a state of wheeziness, always a good sign I think because I actually have to laugh an awful lot to reach the wheeze. Hopefully tightened up a few abdominal muscles as well ... but that could be a short-term benefit only. I think Cipi should get an award for the loudest laugher, she certainly did some serious thigh slapping and I saw her slap H. George across the back several times. Laughing is such a happy little side effect isn't it? Great medicine for us all. I loved seeing HG's chubby little legs sticking out of that wheelbarrow, isn't she a great sport? I thought she and Paul were beautifully under-stated. Olivia was just gorgeous as the threatening flirting tart. Great film editing Martin, obliviously a great script ... whoever wrote it ... Really guys it was just great."

The Third Kangaroo Valley Buster Keaton Film Festival

Upper River Hall, Kangaroo Valley
7.30pm Saturday September 3 2005

inquiries: e-mail Martin Wesley-Smith ( or call (02) 44 651 299

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