Our Hospitality (1923)
|Directed by||Buster Keaton
John G. Blystone
|Produced by||Joseph M. Schenck|
|Written by||Clyde Bruckman|
Buster Keaton Jr.
|Distributed by||Joseph M. Schenck Productions
Metro Pictures Corporation
|Release date(s)||November 19, 1923|
|Running time||74 min|
Our Hospitality is a silent comedy directed, produced, written by and starring Buster Keaton. Released in 1923 by Metro Pictures Corporation, the movie uses slapstick and situational comedy to tell the story of Willie McKay, a city slicker who gets caught in the middle of the infamous Canfield & McKay feud, an obvious satire of the real-life Hatfield-McCoy feud.
The Canfield and McKay families have been feuding for so long, no one remembers the reason the feud started in the first place.
One stormy night in 1810, after family patriarch John McKay falls victim to the feud, his wife Mrs. McKay decides her son, Willie McKay (the infant Buster Keaton Jr.), will not suffer the same fate. She relocates to New York to live with her sister, who after the mother's death raises him without telling him of the feud.
Twenty-one years later, Willie (Buster Keaton Sr.) receives a letter informing him that his father's estate is now in his name. His aunt tells him of the feud, but he decides to return to his birthplace anyway, to claim his inheritance.
On the train ride, he meets a girl, Virginia (played by Keaton's wife, Natalie Talmadge). They are shy to each other at first, but once they arrive (after many train malfunctions), she invites him to dinner at her house. She is greeted by her family, the Canfields. Soon the Canfield paterfamilias knows the young McKay is in town and he's coming to dinner that night. He affirms the blood feud will continue but decrees that McKay must not die in the Canfield house. His sons take this to mean that anywhere beyond the walls of the house, Willie is fair game. The father refers to this as "our hospitality", a fictionalized version of the Southern code of hospitality.
Meanwhile, McKay is oblivious to the seriousness of his situation, and manages to dodge bullets without really meaning to. The McKay estate turns out to be perfectly uninhabitable.
Soon after arriving at the Canfield house McKay learns both that he is in the Canfields' house and that they will not kill him inside. A parson comes to visit. After a while, the parson prepares to leave, but opening the door he finds a tremendous downpour of rain outside. The Canfield patriarch insists the parson stay at the house that night. McKay invites himself to stay the night also.
The next morning, McKay does his best to stay inside the house while the Canfield men try to lure him out. After the father catches McKay kissing his daughter, McKay decides he can no longer keep trying to stay in the house. He leaves, but putting on a woman's dress first.
He's able to elude the Canfield men all the way to the mountain and the waterfalls. After Willie trips and falls into the rapids, Virginia goes after him in a rowboat; overcome by the current, she winds up approaching the edge of the waterfall. In a resourceful and fearless effort, McKay swings trapeze-like on a rope, catching her hands and pulling her to a nearby embankment in mid-fall! (One of Keaton's remarkable performances of acrobatics, ranking as one of the most thrilling rescues in motion picture history).
It grows dark and the Canfield men decide they can kill McKay the next day. Back home they find the gun cabinet completely empty, and in another room they see Willie and Virginia embracing in their bedclothes; assuming fornication, elder Canfield furiously ignores hospitality and rushes to the room, gun in hand. His clearer view reveals the parson completing nuptials for Willie and Virginia. Realizing the wrong of the violence thanks to a hanging "love thy neighbor" sampler, the father blesses the union and calls off the feud. Ordering his family to disarm, the Canfields place their individual pistols on the desk; Willie surrenders the 10 or 12 guns he took from the gun cabinet.
Keaton set the film in the 1830s so he could indulge his passion for trains by creating a working model of Stephenson's Rocket, an early locomotive. He also employed a dandy horse which, by the 1830s, would have been out of fashion. The traveling shots of the locomotive are clear precursors to later work on The General (1926), and were shot in the same Oregon locations.
Actor and Keaton friend Joe Roberts suffered a stroke while making this film, and died of a subsequent stroke shortly after the film's completion.
This is the only film to feature three generations of Keatons. Buster's father plays a train engineer while Buster's infant son plays a baby version of Buster in the film's prologue. Keaton's wife Natalie was pregnant with their second child during filming, and late in the production she had to be filmed to hide her growing size.
Telugu (Tollywood) film adaptation of the story, titled Maryada Ramanna and directed by S.S. Rajamouli, was released on 23 July 2010. It is being remade in Hindi as Ajay Devgn - starrer S.O.S.-Son Of Sardar directed by Ashwini Dhir. Another Kannada film adaptation was first made titled Balagaalittu Olage Baa starring S. Narayan and Chaya Singh.
It was also remade into a Bengali Movie - Faande Poriya Boga Kaande Re (2011) starring Soham Chakraborty & Srabanti Chatterjee. The film was a huge blockbuster and was critically acclaimed. Its song Koka Kola was very famous in whole Bengal.