The Blacksmith (1922) Poster

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6/10
Broad-brush humour
Igenlode Wordsmith23 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
"The Blacksmith" is probably the closest thing to slapstick I've seen from Keaton as director, and it has all the resultant appeal for me that might be expected; it's intermittently funny, and that's about it... I have to confess a prejudice -- humour that revolves around destruction and mayhem has never really been my cup of tea, and for my money Buster's character here is less appealing than the stoical underdogs he more usually plays; it's a combination of the inept and the sly that I found it hard to warm to.

That said, there are some good gags (as well as a few I simply didn't understand; why was Buster heating his stopped watch in the coals?). I liked the {horse-}shoe fitting, with its parody of a high-class shop, and the moment when Buster reaches out and calmly uses the little boy's helium balloon in lieu of a wheel-jack, continuing his maintenance without pause, is pure Keaton despite the low comedy of its aftermath -- as is the moment when, after struggling in vain to release his trapped foot from the points, oblivious to the threat of the approaching train, he catches sight of the locomotive stopped behind him and is instantly free in one bound of terror.

I didn't really find this the equal of Keaton's other comedy shorts, though. Zany filler, but there's little here that a score of other artists couldn't do as well.
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Lots of Creative Material
Snow Leopard22 August 2001
This is an excellent short comedy with a lot of creative material and a good variety of gags. The setting, with Buster as a blacksmith's assistant, lends itself to a lot of good laughs. Buster is very funny in his approach to helping out various horse-owners, and then it gets even funnier when he tries his hand at repairing cars. There's not really much of a plot, but there's a lot of good material that keeps on coming, and it's good fun right up to the very clever last shot.
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8/10
Early Keaton solo film is still funny almost 100 years later
AlsExGal27 March 2017
This film bears a strong resemblance to the Keaton/Arbuckle collaboration "The Garage". Here Keaton is the somewhat inept assistant to a bully (Big Joe Roberts) in a garage where he works as a combination blacksmith and auto mechanic. Ordinary props and tools of the trade become instruments of mischief and mayhem, along with some not-so-ordinary devices of Buster's own design.

During this short film he completely wrecks a new Rolls Royce, a car that retailed for ten thousand dollars back in the early 20's. Did the Keaton Studios have the budget for the destruction of such a vehicle? Some have conjectured that this might have been the Rolls Royce that Keaton received as a wedding present from his brother-in-law and benefactor, Joe Schenck. Also conjectured is that the scene where he is shoeing a horse and equating it with trying to sell shoes to a finicky female customer could have been a dig at his new wife's excessive clothes shopping. This film was made about a year after his marriage to Natalie Talmadge - a marriage that even started out on very rocky ground, and these would have been the kind of passive-aggressive stunts that Keaton was well known for.

I'd recommend it.
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6/10
'Mildly Amusing' About Sums It Up
ccthemovieman-14 October 2006
I would rate this below-par for a Buster Keaton short. It's not bad, just not quite up to Buster's wild and craziness he usually exhibits in these short 20-minute films. He set high standards.

Instead of amazing physical feats or a bunch of chase scenes, most of the jokes are either Buster getting a horse dirty or breaking something or someone else doing it, or a nutty invention for a "shock absorber" for riding a horse. They are all mildly amusing, but that's it.

Perhaps part of the problem is that most of the movie takes place in a blacksmith shop/automobile garage. Keaton, with his athletic prowess, needs room to maneuver, and he doesn't have it here.
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7/10
Unknown Keaton short
Spuzzlightyear13 September 2005
This is a very pleasant and amusing Buster Keaton short. Never heard of this one. Here he plays a blacksmith that, well, since this IS a Buster Keaton film, gets into a lot of various shenanigans. EG, new ideas for saddles for horses, a spotless white horse gets some new stripes, and so on. Actually, when viewing this, you get a very interesting view of a blacksmith's shop circa the 1920's. Apparently they were also doing auto mechanics as well? Keaton also has some gags with what looks to be an S.U.V. for that time period. And of course, he gets in trouble with the boss (with the boss getting his just desserts (which happens in nearly every Buster Keaton movie ever made) ) and Buster gets the girl (ditto). A very funny and light little short.
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10/10
Some great sight gags that are very reminiscent of Chaplin's early works.
Anonymous_Maxine12 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
By the time The Blacksmith was released Chaplin was making the change from short comedies like this one to full length films, but his influence on Buster Keaton's work is unmistakable, as in this case. Keaton plays an apprentice to a blacksmith who ends up getting arrested after a fiasco involving a giant magnet placed over the door to his shop. This is some of the funniest stuff in the movie, which started being funny within seconds of beginning. Even the image of Keaton standing under a tall palm tree is a great sight gag, for some reason.

After his boss has been arrested, Keaton finds himself in charge of the shop, and he runs it with lovable incompetence, inventing hilarious solutions to problems that people bring in with their horses and cars. One lady, for some reason, decides to go to a blacksmith when her horseback riding has begun hurting her back, so he gives her a horseback suspension system. Another man brings in a shiny white car, which Keaton proceeds to unwittingly destroy. By far my favorite gag is the one where Keaton manages to hold up a car with a kid's balloon, prompting the kid to shoot the balloon with a pea-shooter.

It's impossible to ignore the similarities between Keaton and Chaplin's tramp (the scene where Keaton cooks his food over the fire in the shop, only to begin pounding it with the hammer when his boss sees him is exactly the kind of thing Chaplin was famous for at the time), but they are both lovably and wonderful characters on their own. This film has an interesting conclusion involving a hasty (to say the least) marriage to one of his clients which leads to another of the film's many great sight gags (not to mention the train, which probably created momentary but genuine tension among the film's original audiences), showing a certain way in which many a honeymoon quite often ended. Just when you think the movie might approach tragedy, it makes you laugh again.
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horses and cars
Kirpianuscus31 January 2019
A simple story. A great effect. A lovely comedy, in which not exactly the story is significant but the amazing inventivity. A nice short film, proposing an apprentice and his hilarious mistakes and a love story among horses and cars.
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7/10
You're Not Helping!
SendiTolver25 September 2018
Buster Keaton works as apprentice in the blacksmith's shop. When little misunderstanding sends the blacksmith into jail, Buster has to take over all the jobs. One little mistake leads to another and accidents grow bigger, until Buster destroys gleaming white Rolls Royce, and he is finally chased out from the town.

'The Blacksmith' doesn't include stunts on the large scale, but every little gag is so well tied with the next one, that it makes the film flow. Above the average on Buster Keaton scale, but probably the best one in the sense of pure storytelling - every joke and gag moves the story forward, and are not there just for the laughs. Or just for the sake of performing big stunt.
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7/10
The movie felt a little "claustrophobic"
MartinHafer24 July 2006
My above comment is alluding to the fact that almost all the action in the film takes place in and immediately around the blacksmith shop. As a result, except at the very end, the film tends to feel a bit restrained. And, in general, the jokes are not very typical of Keaton's shorts from the 20s, as instead of odd situations and pratfalls, the emphasis is definitely more on Buster breaking things.

Buster is the blacksmith's assistant and as the film begins, his boss is taken to jail--leaving the inexperienced and pretty stupid Buster to run the shop. Again and again, he screws up in so many ways and just seems pretty forced compared to his character in most other films. Smashing a car, getting oil all over a horse's coat and accidentally sitting on a red-hot horseshoe is about the speed of the film. While these are funny, the laughs never seem to get that strong--with only minor chuckles here and there. Not one of Keaton's better shorts in the decade, but still an improvement over the type shorts he did for Keystone in the 1910s.
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8/10
Buster Keaton was always my favorite ...
KennethEagleSpirit12 January 2007
And films like this one is why. Its just one laugh after another. This is absolutely one of Keaton's better works. One gag after another, all pulled off as only Keaton could. All things work well. The photography is well done, the continuity is much better than in most films of that day, the sets, the props, the other players, all done well. And I loved the last minute or two of the film. Its just cool. And there is, of course, the destruction of the Rolls Royce. The beautiful new car had been a gift to Keaton from his in-laws. I wonder how funny THEY thought THAT was? I suppose it was cost efficient in the making of the film. But as far as cost efficiency and laughs go this flick is extravagant.
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9/10
Lots of sight gags and slapstick
weezeralfalfa19 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Starts off slow, but the gigantic super magnetic horseshoe above the shop entrance that sucks metal objects up to it gets the laughs rolling.. It even attracted the sheriff's badge off his shirt, which got blacksmith Joe Roberts in trouble. He fought with a bunch of deputies, but was finally subdued when Keaton cut the support for the horseshoe, and it fell on Joe's head. Joe was hauled off to jail. Keaton, as his assistant, ran the shop by himself, until near the end, when Joe is released from jail, and discovered what a mess Keaton has made of things, especially the 2 cars he was working on........In addition to the mayhem Keaton causes in the shop, he has a rather brief time outside the shop, which covers the last part of the film. He had runaway from the angry people in the shop, and landed on a railroad track. Later, he's walking down a road when he collides with a galloping white horse. The classy Virginia Fox was the rider. She is knocked out by the collision. When she comes to, Keaton comes on to her. His enthusiasm was overpowering, so they ran hand in hand, from the shop group that was chasing Keaton. When the pursuers got close, Keaton accidentally pulled the rope that released water from the railroad storage tank, discombobulating their pursuers long enough to allow them to catch the departing train.........Keaton never did get around to fixing the thing on the front of the expensive car. But, he later, along with Joe, sure otherwise wrecked the car, in trying to fix the old car next to it. The last straw was when Keaton hoisted Joe above the car, then cut the rope, causing him to smash in the roof. Very Funny. .......One of the funniest scenes has Keaton convincing a horsewoman to buy his monstrous saddle shock absorber. She couldn't get on the saddle without a ladder! She rode around on it for a while, but eventually her horse returned without her, she showing up later with a big stick, causing Keaton to vacate the shop.......One of the more surreal gags has Keaton borrowing the helium-filled balloon of an inquisitive boy. He ties this onto the car where he just took off the tire, thus acting as a wheel jack, The boy then shoots the balloon down with his sling shot, causing that side of the car to partially fall through the floor.......When Keaton is trying to decide which already made horseshoe to put on Virginia's horse, he shows the candidates to the horse , who either nods with disapproval or approval.
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8/10
Hasty, but quality craftsmanship - worth firing up
pyrocitor13 December 2017
After a slew of successful collaborations as foil for Fatty Arbuckle, The Blacksmith marks one of the first solo directing efforts for silent slapstick legend, Buster Keaton. The results are predictably charming (and charmingly predictable), with the added pleasure of watching the roots of Keaton hammering, smelting, and forging his own cinematic voice with the same gusto (but, thankfully, less clumsiness) as his onscreen earnest blacksmith. While it's a tad too assembly-line to compare with the most memorable or groundbreaking work of Keaton's career, The Blacksmith offers mirth aplenty, and is easily worth revisiting for fans and the unacquainted alike.

Keaton's film is noticeably sillier, and more predicated on frantic, zany slapstick than the slow-build gags and impassiveness that would become characteristic of 'ol' Stone Face' hitting a career stride. But comedic proceedings are handled with a well-oiled confidence, while the short's accessibility proves Keaton to be as comfortable with the conventions of the time as he would eventually be riffing on them with a deadpan chortle. Silent comedy is geared around strong visual gags, and Keaton shows a natural affinity for them, as the film is chock-full of hilarious bits: Keaton cooking his breakfast on a Blacksmith forge, getting his oil-covered hands all over a fancy car before smashing it to pieces in a fight with his characteristically enormous boss. And, in one of the decade's most salient tongue-in-cheek critiques of trendy, post-industrialization technological gimmicks, Keaton anchors a particularly dopey recurring visual gag - a woman sitting on a custom-built horse saddle springing up and down as she rides like an inglorious Jack-in-the-box - on a snarky marketing hook: "try our new 'shock-absorbing saddle!'" It takes a particularly smart artist to properly sell humour this stupid, and it's abundantly clear that Keaton, from his nimble, hapless, but adorably earnest performance, to his assured, clever direction, is the one for the job.

The Blacksmith, characteristically, doesn't reinvent the wheel, and is shy on character development in lieu of zaniness. But, its Tommy gun pacing and endless slew of gags do it justice, making it a riotously entertaining amuse-bouche, executed with slick confidence, that doesn't overstay its welcome. I had the pleasure of watching the short with live piano accompaniment in a restored early 20th century movie house. Hearing a packed audience of nearly 3000 - some old enough to have watched Keaton in theatres in his heyday; some young enough to be their great-grandchildren - all howling with laughter in unison, was unforgettably powerful, and spoke to the timelessness and universal accessibility of silent comedy, and the finely-tuned prowess of Keaton and The Blacksmith specifically. But watching at home, freely accessible on YouTube or Vimeo, should mar none of its hilarity, impeccable construction, or consummate, loveable timelessness.

-8/10
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7/10
Has its moments!
JohnHowardReid24 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The Blacksmith Buster Keaton (blacksmith's apprentice), Joe Roberts (blacksmith), Virginia Fox (horsewoman).

Directors: BUSTER KEATON, MAL ST CLAIR. Screenplay: Buster Keaton, Mal St Clair. Photography: Elgin Lessley. Art director: Fred Gabourie. Producer: Joseph M. Schenck.

Copyright 21 July 1922 by Comique Film Co., Inc. U.S. release: 21 July 1922. Original release prints had an attractive amber wash. 23 minutes.

SYOPSIS: Buster Keaton wreaks havoc in a blacksmith's garage.

COMMENT: Not a wholly successful film, chiefly because the comedian tries his hand at a number of disparate styles.

Mostly, Buster endeavors to imitate Charles Chaplin — but neglects to engage the audience's sympathy. His destructive acts are impressive but not particularly amusing, simply because they all tend to come across as destruction simply for destruction's sake.

However, the movie fortunately does move along pretty quickly, and it certainly does favor us with several very ingenious gags. In particular, I found both the opening hilarity with the magnet and the climax with the advancing train, most enjoyable.
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7/10
Village Smitty and his assistant
bkoganbing6 July 2011
This 1922 short subject for First National Pictures finds Buster Keaton as the assistant to blacksmith Joe Roberts. Although by 1922 the horseless carriage had taken over the big city, you could still find a shop like this one in the hinterlands.

In fact Keaton does seek to keep up with the times and also tries to repair a car with hilarious results though not for the car owner.

Best gag in the film was the giant horseshoe over the shop which acts as a magnet grabbing everything metallic near it.

If blacksmith's like Buster were the future of the trade good thing the automobile was invented when it was.
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7/10
Genre Keaton?
Polaris_DiB3 March 2006
A young blacksmith's apprentice, through the usual in luck and malfunctioning gadgetry, ends up with control of the works for a while. There he tries to make do with all he's learned and what he has, including clever little jokes like horse's shoes in shoeboxes, a watch that needs to be fixed by fire, and a horse-back shock absorber. However, despite his genuine attempts at making everyone happy, eventually all of the customers grow irate, putting the young blacksmith-to-be in danger.

Typical Keaton in its inventiveness, this one has not much to make it stand out from any of his other works except for the delightful destruction of a high-class care, a neat little subversive poke towards conspicuous consumption sentiments. Otherwise, pick a plot line from any other Keaton short, make it revolve around a blacksmith's shop, and you got this neat little fun-fest.

--PolarisDiB
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7/10
Shoeing horses
TheLittleSongbird1 November 2019
Buster Keaton was nothing short of a genius, in comedy or for anything for that matter. Not just because of his humour hilarious, his charm endearing and his physical comedy enough to make many envious, but also because of how he was never afraid to take risks (his most daring work making the jaw drop) and because he was an unparallelled master when it came to deadpan, a lot of people struggle to do it well but Keaton was brilliant at it.

He did do a lot better than 'The Blacksmith', whether short films or feature films. When it comes to his short films, there is a preference for the likes of 'The Scarecrow', 'The Goat' and 'The Boat', which like a lot of other Keaton outings were much funnier, more imaginative, more daring and played to Keaton's strengths more. His physical comedy has been better served elsewhere as well, to me at least. That sounds like 'The Blacksmith' is bad. Actually, it is definitely worth watching and is well done, just a little underwhelming by inevitably high Keaton standards.

'The Blacksmith' is very thinly plotted and even as a short film it feels a little over-stretched. The romantic subplot is (for a Keaton short and feature film) uncharacteristically bland and feels padded.

For Keaton, 'The Blacksmith' is pretty tame. The pace is not as breakneck compared to most of Keaton's work and the physical comedy not near as daring or inventive. The gags are definitely well constructed and bring a smile to the face but they don't rise above pleasantly amusing.

As said though, this does not mean that 'The Blacksmith' is bad. It is a good looking short film, not among the most technically advanced of Keaton's but it's not primitive either. As said, the gags are pleasant and amusing and are timed well. It is not dull generally, not breakneck but there is energy, and there is an easy-going charm and natural likeability.

Keaton has great comic timing and is easy to endear to, his deadpan "Great Stone Face" acting style, expressive and nuanced as always, having not lost its appeal.

Overall, nice enough but not exceptional. For Keaton, this could have been better. 7/10
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4/10
Buster at the stables
Horst_In_Translation30 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
"The Blacksmith" is an American black-and-white silent film from over 90 years ago. It stars Buster Keaton, one of the biggest stars of his era and possibly second in silent film command behind Chaplin. Of course, Keaton is not the real blacksmith in these 20 minutes, but merely the assistant, the one who has to do all the dirty work. Consequently, as always, Buster gets in trouble with all his customers and also his boss. But at least he catches a break and also meets a lovely woman. So the ingredients are similar to other Keaton films. 1922 was already pretty late in Keaton's early silent short film career and he moved on to full features not much later. Buster's co-writer and co-director here is Malcolm St. Clair and not Edward F. Cline as usual. However, his co-actors Virginia Fox and Joe Roberts are regulars in Keaton movies. Memorable moments include the train that stopped so fast, better technology than now, almost a century later for sure and of course the guy who brought his car to the stables. I guess he mistook horse power in that context. All in all, not a very memorable short film in my opinion. Not recommended.
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6/10
smaller stunts
SnoopyStyle12 July 2015
Buster Keaton is a blacksmith's assistant. A misunderstanding between the sheriff and the blacksmith over a magnet hanging over the entrance sends the blacksmith to jail. A high class lady comes in to change her horse's shoes. He tries to fix a car but a Denise the Menace type causes havoc in the shop. Everybody has enough of the bumbling Keaton. After rescuing a girl, they ride off on the train together.

The stunts are not as complicated and small in scale. The jokes are Keaton bumbling around and causing mayhem. It's all nice and fun. This is a little early and doesn't have the elaborate well thought out physical gags yet.
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4/10
I wanted to like it
WakenPayne9 November 2013
I liked Silent comedy when I was about 11. Charlie Chaplin was my favourite but at the time I liked this one also. I haven't seen that many Buster Keaton films but I didn't really like this short.

So the plot is that A Blacksmith's Assistant (Keaton) has a misunderstanding with his aggressive boss that ends up with the boss getting arrested. He then has to run the shop while also causing a great mess to everyone who walks in.

So I can get past the thin plot but what I can't get past is that I think there is a difference between being funny and causing a mess. Accidentally getting oiled hand-prints on a horse isn't funny, unintentionally destroying someone's car isn't funny and causing someone to fall off their horse isn't funny. One of the things I did find funny was that magnet routine that got the boss arrested along with the scene where a little boy's balloon is used to hold up a car and then the boy slingshots it. That was funny because someone was in misery.

With all this said, I do want to see more of Buster Keaton. In this he does look like he's trying to pull something off. It doesn't really work but I respect that he's trying. I just didn't like this movie because the one schtick that's running throughout this movie is that he causes a mess and we never see the person's reaction to it. We saw other people's reaction to it, but we never saw the actual people's reaction to it. So I'm not disliking Buster Keaton here, All I'm saying is that I see some potential that didn't really deliver in this film.

So I think that this isn't that bad but that is faint praise. I mean I do like that at least it was the short version (I've heard there is one that runs for 2 hours and continues after this film ends) and there were some things that were funny. I just think that this could have been better than what it is, and don't not like this review because you might get the impression I don't like silent comedy - I do. I just have seen much better from it that I hoped this movie could have delivered.
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6/10
The weakest Keaton short
MissSimonetta21 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
After watching this for the first time, one of my sisters commented, "That was the worst Buster Keaton film I've ever seen." That statement pretty much sums up my feelings about The Blacksmith (1922). Some think "The Balloonatic" (1923) is worse, but at least that one has the benefit of containing a few good gags and a charming leading lady to keep it from being boring. This one is just lame and forgettable.

There's no plot and the blacksmith scenario offers little opportunities for comedy. The scene where Keaton wrecks a Rolls-Royce was a scene he later disliked since he didn't think it was funny to destroy something the audience themselves might covet. The romance subplot is barely developed even by the standards of a Keaton two-reeler (the girl is usually used as an easy means of putting conflict into a short; in this she starts out as one of Keaton's clients and at the last minute they get married) and seems to have been added just because. Unless you're a Keaton fan, just skip.
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