Battling Butler (1926) Poster

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"Do you think you could learn to love me?"
imogensara_smith10 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
It's curious that Buster Keaton, whose training was in a knockabout vaudeville act and slapstick comedy shorts, was so good at playing pampered, effete young millionaires. He just happened to be one of nature's aristocrats. Buster appreciated the comic possibilities of this character—starting out so helpless allowed plenty of room for dramatic development--and the role also suited his innate gentleness and quiet dignity.

Buster played wealthy idlers in several of his movies, including The Navigator, but he was never more placidly twitty than in Battling Butler. For the first half of the movie he looks like a 1920s fashion plate, exquisitely groomed, demonstrating What the Well-Dressed Man Will Wear for hunting, fishing, etc. He is Alfred Butler, whose tycoon father, annoyed by his son's languid existence, sends him an a camping expedition to toughen him up. In the mountains, he sleeps in a vast tent complete with bed, wardrobe and tiger rug; his faithful valet lays out his clothes, draws his bath, and serves his meals on silver dishes. This is my idea of roughing it! While attempting to hunt (obliviously missing every animal in the forest) and fish (capsizing his boat in pursuit of a bobbing duck), Alfred encounters a pretty "mountain girl" (Sally O'Neil.) They fall in love, but her family won't accept this sissy as an in-law until Alfred's valet tells them that his employer is actually Alfred "Battling" Butler, a boxer contending for the lightweight title.

Alfred goes along with the ruse for the sake of the girl. Then he encounters the real "Battling" Butler, and after a misunderstanding involving the boxer's wife, "Battling" tells Alfred that HE can fight the title bout with the "Alabama Murderer"—or he'll blow his cover. The rest of the film follows Alfred's difficulties as the trainers try to turn the playboy into a fighter. Along with the athletic sequences in his later movie College, these scenes offer the most sustained focus on Buster's extraordinary physique and what he could do with it.

With his small stature, Buster could convincingly portray a milquetoast as long as he kept his clothes on, but once he strips down to boxing shorts it's all too obvious how exceptionally fit he was. In the opening shot of the training sequence, he's obviously supposed to look puny and defenseless; instead he looks like he could easily be a boxer. Despite his sculpted body, Buster plays these scenes with a realism that renders them almost painful to watch. He reacts the way any normal, soft-bellied human being would to being mercilessly pummeled. He shows hurt and exhaustion, and displays his own nearly limitless endurance of both. Buster had, it must be said, an unhealthy capacity to take punishment. It wasn't masochism, just that his pride in his physical abilities and the authenticity of his stuntwork outweighed any concern for his own well-being. He must have been used to pain: as the star of an act renowned as the roughest in vaudeville, he'd been "taking it like a man" ever since he was a toddler.

At the end of the movie, "Battling" attacks Alfred viciously, and finally Alfred retaliates and beats the boxer unconscious. Many people dislike this fight, feeling it's uncharacteristic for Buster to triumph through brute force, sheer slugging, rather than ingenuity or pluck. The fight was Keaton's own addition to the play that was the source for the movie. The original ending simply let Alfred off the hook without having to fight, which Buster felt was dramatically unsatisfying. Pushed too far, humiliated too deeply, his meek character finally responds with fury and violence. It is uncharacteristic, but maybe he liked it for just that reason. Off-screen, Buster had a troubling passivity, especially in his unhappy married life, and he must have enjoyed playing a character who effectively fights back.

Still, I prefer the first half of the movie, with its gentle pace, low-key jokes and elegant touches. Alfred's valet is played by Snitz Edwards, a tiny actor (he makes Buster look imposing) with a goblin face and a delicate performing style. Cute as a button, Sally O'Neil makes one of Buster's most effective leading ladies. In a sweet image typical of Keaton's sophisticated film-making style, when Alfred parts from his wife, as he drives away her face remains framed, like a cameo, in the oval window at the back of the car.

Battling Butler was one of Keaton's most successful movies when it was released. Like Seven Chances and College, it lacks the otherworldly originality of his best work, but I've always liked it better than the other two and considered it a handsome, mature and underrated work. Lacking any large-scale set-pieces, this film rests almost entirely on Buster's performance. "Do you think you could learn to love me?" he asks Sally O'Neil. She replies, as I would: "I have."
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A knock-down success
Igenlode Wordsmith23 February 2006
Neither the prospect of eighty minutes of biting headwind nor snow showers has been able to keep me from the National Film Theatre over the three weeks so far of its Buster Keaton season, and every time the films have yet to disappoint: "Battling Butler" is no exception! I'd instantly give this a 9 if only I could justify it relative to the early scenes; despite the pitch of enthusiasm I'd reached by the end of the film, I'm still not quite sure in all fairness that I can.

It definitely takes a while to get up to speed (at the start, I took the father to be a doctor giving his sickly son only three months to live!) and for the initial reel or so it depends largely on a single extended gag -- the elegant fop's complete unsuitability for an outdoor environment. Alfred's elaborate al-fresco living arrangements echo Keaton's trademark fascination with complicated contrivances, and there's one very typical bit of misdirection where we wait for the shotgun's recoil to knock Alfred backwards into the water, only for a somewhat different turn of events to prove his downfall; but this film doesn't come properly to life until its hero engages our sympathy as well as being a walking joke. In "The General", we engage with Johnnie Gray almost immediately -- in "Battling Butler", Alfred remained a cipher for me until the moment when he nervously rehearses "Beatrice Faircatch"'s newspaper advice on making a proposal, with such an earnest air: it's funny, but it's also touching, and it's no coincidence that it is with his subsequent first steps towards standing on his own two feet -- tearing up and throwing aside the useless newspaper column -- that Alfred Butler may finally be said to have progressed beyond a simple one-dimensional character, and the film can really begin.

From here on the picture becomes a Keaton classic, sweeping the hapless hero further and further from the cushioned normality of his life with a series of escalating and plausible coincidences. Ultimately the worm will turn, of course -- but not in the time and manner that we are expecting. And Keaton acts here not just with that famous face but with every line of his whole body: triumph, exhaustion, despair, apprehension, indignation, timidity, pugnacity... and finally, in the last scene, sublime confidence in his own skin, modelling a costume so incongruous that only Buster Keaton could carry it off with such genuine elegance!

The scenes of Alfred's ordeal are hilarious and moving by degrees -- it's almost impossible to analyse Keaton's appeal. 'Sweet' is quite definitely the wrong word, as is 'lovable': Buster is no Little Tramp. 'Bittersweet' might be closer to the mark... or 'poignant'; the metaphor of the man who gets knocked down but keeps on trying has never been more apt. There is a brief vivid moment when Alfred, bewildered and worn out, turns his face aside into the arms of his second with such a hopeless little air that instead of a laugh, it raised a murmur of pity from the auditorium. But Keaton never allows himself to milk the audience for sympathy -- the best of his films may mingle laughter through tears, but he never falls into the trap of sentimentality.

I'm not sure if this is among the best of Keaton's films... but it's certainly one of those I've ultimately enjoyed the most so far. I've changed my mind: I'll give it a 9 after all, and say I'm dropping a mark down instead from a 10! :-)
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Size over Class
caspian197824 September 2004
A nice little comedy about a wealthy young man with nothing to do. He finds himself taking a trip into the mountain country to put some adventure into his life. It is here where he meets a young Mountain girl played by actress Sally O'Neil. Soon, Keaton and O'Neil fall in love and want to marry. The problem is O'Neil's father and brother are giant of men and won't allow her to marry such a small man. It is Keaton's butler / servant who gets the idea to lie to her parents by telling them that Keaton is a professional boxer (who happens to have the same name as Keaton's character (Butler). One lie leads to another as Keaton as to pretend he is a boxer. A nice story with some moments of comedy, Battling Butler is a Keaton comedy with very little stunt work from Buster Keaton. Besides the moments spent in the ring, Keaton hardly does any stunts. Most of the comedy comes from Keaton's silent comedy as oppose to his physical (stunt) comedy.
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A Cut Below His Best Films, But Still Good Comedy
Snow Leopard1 October 2001
While it's a cut below Keaton's best features, "Battling Butler" has some good comic material and an amusing, if lightweight, story. There are some good performances from the supporting cast, a wide enough assortment of gags, and the story-line also gives Buster a chance to demonstrate a few of his many acrobatic talents.

The first few minutes contain lots of good visual gags as we are introduced to Keaton's hapless character. Then, when his identity gets tangled up with that of a prize-fighter, "Battling Butler", from there on in Buster finds himself in some increasingly complicated and tricky situations. As his character's physical ineptness is emphasized, Keaton's own agility and versatility are displayed in various antics. (The same is true to some degree of his character in "College".) Most of the specific stunts, though, are relatively routine compared to those in his best work.

In lesser hands, the fragile premise would run out of steam quickly, but here things keep moving along steadily, and there are some very good moments. It doesn't ever really hit high gear, though, and it's missing the kind of top-notch climactic sequence that distinguishes Keaton's best films. Thus it will probably be of interest primarily to those who are already fans of Keaton, but most such fans should find it worth a look. While there's nothing spectacular, there is more than enough good material to make it worthwhile as light entertainment.
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Snitz Arranges It
slokes30 May 2010
Sybil Seely, Marceline Day, Brown Eyes: All of Buster Keaton's best on-screen partners were female. All but one. Snitz Edwards here plays Buster's faithful valet, a gnomish, gentle character whose eagerness to arrange whatever his master wants lands him in trouble.

Buster is Alfred Butler, rich and so passive he lets Snitz tap the ash off his cigarette. While on a camping trip, he meets a girl (Sally O'Neil) who strikes his fancy. Her father and brother disapprove of her going off with a "jellyfish." Snitz to the rescue: He tells them this is the same "Battling Butler" who just won the lightweight boxing crown. Alas, the ruse works too well.

You can argue that Snitz plays the title character here as much as Buster or Francis McDonald, who plays the boxer Butler. Whether laying out a ridiculously ornate table at Buster's camp site or laboring to keep up with his boss during an arduous run through the mud, there's no give-up in the guy.

"I'd like to marry that pretty little mountain girl" Buster says.

"Shall I arrange it?" Snitz answers. Buster nods, setting the plot in motion.

Like a lot of silent comedies, this is a film of pieces. The first half, of Buster and Snitz roughing it in the outdoors, could be a clever short all by itself. Buster's idea of duck-hunting is to row up to one wading in the water, and then lean out of the boat to point a shotgun at it at point-blank range. You expect him to fire and roll off from the gun's kickback, so naturally that's the one thing that doesn't happen.

The transition to the boxing comedy is well done, helped along by Snitz, McDonald, and O'Neil, really a cutie with her Zooey Deschanel eyes. It's O'Neil's desperate desire to see her man in the ring duking it out that forces Buster and Snitz to scramble in the last half-hour or so, coming up with all sorts of ruses. The comedy wears a bit thin at times with some protracted workout scenes in the boxing ring, yet Buster goes a long way to selling them with his amazingly elastic physicality.

Buster doesn't wear a porkpie in this film, and his pampered lifestyle distances you a bit more than his inexpressiveness usually did, but he has that dogged quality of classic Keaton heroes. He may not be the champion boxer his girl thinks he is, but he'll not give her up without a fight. "I'm going back and tell her the truth," he tells Snitz. "I'd rather lose her that way."

It's funny how "Battling Butler" doesn't really engage a lot of Keaton fans. Perhaps there's some resentment there because it was a hit for Buster right before "The General" flopped. Taken on its own merits, "Battling Butler" is a clever and engaging comedy with a likeably different lead role for Buster and a surprising double-twist ending, in which Buster (and the audience) have the wool lifted from their eyes one minute, only for Buster to do the same with us the next.

Maybe "Battling Butler" isn't as inventive as Keaton fans are used to, but it has its share of arresting visuals and a solid mix of varied comedic moments that still connect. Plus it works as a story all the way through. Finally there's the winning chemistry of Buster and Snitz, The Great Stoneface and The Great Cragface.
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My Favorite Keaton Film!
sweetnlowdown219 October 2001
First of all, I don't quite understand why all these people have been saying this is a "lesser" film by Keaton! I think it's a fast energetic and hilarious film, that shows Keaton to be in fine form! Now, when I called this film my favorite by Keaton some might agrue, that's not the "correct" choice. One MUST say they love "The General" or "Sherlock Jr." While I do think both films are great and funny. But there's something about this one that I enjoy just a bit more. I like the film's spirit. As everyone mentions there are several funny moments in this film. If your a Keaton fan, you should definitely see this one. If you've never seen a Keaton film, I personally think this is a wonderful place to start. **** out of ****
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Not Keaton's funniest film, nevertheless a consistently good one
dhoffman19 March 2001
One of the best paced of all Keaton films, `Battling Butler' is not uproariously funny but is consistently amusing and entertaining. Being mistaken for an up-and-coming boxer, Alfred Butler (Keaton) falls in love and marries on the basis of this mistaken identity. Trying to keep his wife from finding out creates the needed comic situation to allow the humor to emerge. His leading lady, Sally O'Neil, sparkles in her supporting role. Snitz Edwards, humorous in his own right, is a delight as Keaton's valet. The final scene is a gem!
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very good story, not quite as many laughs
MartinHafer28 April 2006
This is a very good Buster Keaton film. However, some might be put off by the scarcity of pratfalls and belly laughs compared to many of his other efforts. That's because this film is much more plot driven and character driven than most silent comedies--and that works well for me, though you might miss the more acrobatic and violent character he plays in his shorts and in some of his full-length ones.

Buster plays a spoiled rich young man who really needs to be toughened up--so his dad tells him to go camping. The next segment is probably the funniest, as it cuts to a "wilderness" scene--complete with a butler, tub, poster bed, and all the other modern conveniences (that's the way I'd like to camp!). While "camping" he meets a nice girl and he is smitten. Instead of Buster going to propose, he sends his butler--who immediately knows her dad will say "no" because he wants a virile, more "studly" son-in-law. So, the butler panics and says that Buster is the famous boxer Alfred "Battling" Butler! Now, the two men do have the same name and are roughly the same size--but that's about the only similarity. Daddy gives his hearty approval and Buster is married. But, when the real Butler wins the title, Buster has a hard time pretending any longer. Later, the real Butler retires and Buster takes his place--going to training camp and working for a title defense! You'll have to tune in to see what happens next, as this only takes you through about half the film--watch it and enjoy.
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Polaris_DiB6 February 2006
This is kind of a typical Buster Keaton story, except in reverse: the girl comes along earlier in the movie, the men are impressed with him earlier on, everything works out for him earlier on, and then the rest of the movie is him trying to maintain his luck versus trying to get the girl against all the forces of bad luck. It also goes in a couple surprising directions, which are noteworthy.

I notice through the evolution of Keaton's movies that he did more and more acting and less and less physical comedy, with the exception of course of The Saphead, which was his first feature-length that was mostly drama-based, not slapstick-based. By now, 1926, Keaton knows what he's doing and knows where he's going, and thus this is a pretty clean and well-put together movie.

Still, the stuff he does in the training-ring scene is amazingly original and marvelous. When watching this movie, one expects something more along the lines of Chaplin's moment in City Lights, where he dodges around limberly and almost succeeds. Not the case, this was more real and brutal. Marvelous stuff, really, and surprising in its own right.

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One of Keaton's Best!
JohnHowardReid11 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Although robbed of its delightful songs by Douglas Furber (lyrics) and Philip Brabham (music), "Battling Butler" more than makes up for this unavoidable lapse by casting one of our favorite character players, Snitz Edwards, in a major role. He is wonderful; and it's to Keaton's credit, both as a fellow comic and as the director, that he allows Snitz to steal many of his scenes. In fact, Keaton and Edwards make a great comedy team. Except for one or two sequences, they don't play against each other, they play with each other—a feat that is more difficult to bring off successfully.

Following the construction of the stage musical, the film splits neatly into two halves. Tom Wilson's harassed trainer, who expertly pits himself against the seemingly hopeless Keaton, supplies much of the comedy in the second half until the star unexpectedly turns the tables in a grand climax especially written for the film. In the play, the McDonald character simply drops out and doesn't return at all. It could be said that the stage musical actually ends on rather a limp note plot-wise, but this problem has now been neatly licked.

Doubtless due to the fact that comic fight scenes have been done to death by just about every comedian you could name in sound films, "Battling Butler" is not wholly prized among Keaton addicts, but I regard it as one of his best outings.
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fun time
SnoopyStyle19 August 2019
Alfred (Buster Keaton) is a weakling from a wealthy family. His father is frustrated with his pampering and sends him on a hunting and fishing trip in the mountains. He brings his butler and all the modern conveniences. It doesn't go well but he does fall in love with a mountain girl whom he almost shoots. Her father and brother ridicule him and refuse to let him marry her until his butler tells them that he is the famous boxer, Alfred "Battling" Butler. The lie quickly gets out of hand.

While it doesn't have the big stunts, it does have the comedic boxing. At least, Buster gets to show off his physiques. It has his charms. It's a fun second tier Buster. During the big final fight, the real Butler should really push the girl. The idea of her being pushed around should be the driving force for him to rally against him. It's like Popeye getting his spinach. Overall, it's a fun time.
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Buster's a boxer!
HotToastyRag12 January 2019
In 1926, before the world knew what Buster Keaton sounded like when he talked, he played a rich, spoiled dandy in Battling Butler. While "camping" on his own in the forest, his valet takes care of his every need, including hot meals, dressing him for dinner, and drawing his bath. Buster sees Sally O'Neil and sends his valet, Snitz Edwards, to propose for him and arrange the marriage. Sally's family think Buster is a weakling, but to impress them, Snitz lies and says Buster is actually "Battling" Butler, a prizefighter with the same name.

For the rest of the movie, Buster is caught up in the lie he didn't even tell. He pretends to be the boxer, and even switches places with him and prepares to fight in the ring! There are some pretty cute scenes and jokes, as well as some very entertaining boxing scenes. Even though he comes across as a weakling at the start of the movie, we all know that he's going to show off and use his muscles when he gets into his boxing shorts. This isn't the movie to watch if you're looking for death-defying stunts, but if you liked Danny Kaye's reluctant character in The Kid from Brooklyn, you'll probably love this one.
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Boxing Movie with Attitude
SendiTolver13 September 2018
Buster Keaton stars as Alfred Butler, spoiled young man from rich family. His father sends him into mountains for hunting and fishing trip to 'make a man' out of him. Unfortunately, Alfred is not quite weakling, but he is very used with comfortable life where everything is done before and after him (in the opening scene we see Alfred smoking, and his valet taking cigarette out between his lips, shaking ashes into the tray and placing cigarette back between his lips), so he decides to take his valet (Snitz Edwards) along. The life in the forest isn't much different for Alfred, as the tent is luxurious like a mansion, and his valet still preparing his clothing and meals. After meeting a girl, Alfred falls in love with her, but the girl's father and brother are against the marriage because they think Alfred is a weakling. Alfred's valet lies him to be a prize fighter who happens to bear the same name, Alfred Butler. One little lie leads to another, until Alfred is forced to take up the part of the boxer he pretended to be for real.

'Battling Butler' is more situation comedy than Keaton's usual physical action packed movies. Besides Keaton's time spent in the ring the film contains very little stunt work. But one shouldn't worry about that thing, as Buster Keaton's subtle performance is enough to compensate that. The high point of the whole movie is definitely the climatic fight between two Butlers (Buster Keaton and Francis McDonald). Not comparable with 'The General' or 'Sherlock Jr.' but sweet movie nonetheless. Like Martin Scorsese himself said - Keaton is the only person who had the right attitude about boxing in the movies. And 'Battling Butler' is one boxing comedy with attitude.
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Battling Butler A Buster Bomb
ccthemovieman-16 August 2006
The first 30 minutes of this Buster Keaton film are some of the stupidest he ever made, at least from what I've seen. I don't blame him; this is the film world where even since this period - around 1920 - marriage is always trivialized and people are always lying. Why was that so frequent in classic movies, in particular? It's disgusting. Here Alfred "Battling" Butler, a spoiled rich young man - in order to keep his girl - lies about being the lightweight boxing champion of the world, because that guy, who has the same name as him, is a hero and he wants to impress her and her big brother and big father. He wants to marry her right away because she's pretty and she consents as soon as she hears he's a big shot. Boy, those are great reasons for marriage!

After the quickie marriage, Buster heads off for training camp for his supposed title defense against the "Alabama Murderer." Later, the real "Battling Butler," to do the impostor a favor and save his marriage, lets him be the real thing and fight while he retires.

The training - and the first real laugh of the film - isn't until 47-minute mark when Buster begins training and can't get over the ropes. He is helpless outside and inside the ring as it turns out.

The training escalates as Buster begins roadwork the next day.....but he isn't up to training or fighting or any of this. Fortunately, a big twist occurs late in the movie which saves Buster from going into the ring, although the little man does save his honor after he fights the real "Battling Butler."

I would agree with the critics on this one: it's far from Buster's best work.
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Keaton in fine form
gbill-7487726 August 2019
Buster Keaton is as charming as always in the role of a fop who tries to assume the identity of a boxer in order to impress a young woman (Sally O'Neil) he's just met, as well as her father and brother who won't allow her to marry a "weakling". It's the idea of his valet (Snitz Edwards), who handles everything for him, including tapping the ash off his cigarette while he's smoking, and is blithely instructed by his boss to "arrange it" whenever he needs something done. "I'd like to marry that pretty mountain girl," Buster says. "Shall I arrange it?" Snitz answers. The early scenes of Buster camping in the lap of luxury, complete with bearskin rug, are funny and a nice little satire of the wealthy.

Buster is in fine form throughout the film, showing off his athleticism as well as sweet, romantic side. He looks good in a tux, and looks good strutting around in his shorts. Always willing to sacrifice his body for the sake of a scene, he takes quite a bit of abuse and some real punches, some of which look pulled, but others of which do not. The result is a pretty stirring and realistic fight scene. Even getting into the ring for sparring practice involves quite a bit of neck-wrenching agility as he humorously gets tangled up in the ropes. And as an aside, if you look closely when he registers at the hotel you can see his right index finger missing its tip from having been amputated following a childhood accident.

The plot seems pretty straightforward, but I love how it gives us a little twist. It's notable that the fight at the end was devised by Keaton; the stage play ends with the switcharoo, and he thought that would be less than satisfying. He does this sort of thing a lot, knowing what we might expect, and then toying with us before giving us a surprise. An example of this is when he tries to shoot a duck while in his canoe; we know he's going to get wet, but he's masterful at doing so in an unexpected way.

There are several scenes with great composition in the film, the best of which is when the girl is framed perfectly in the small back window of Buster's limo as it drives away. Later we see Buster looking at her again through the crook of his trainer's elbow. Another one is when the valet approaches Buster and the young woman as they sit under an umbrella, and we get a shot from behind the couple. It's a comedy with lots of gags and car stunts/crashes thrown in too which may make this easier to overlook, but Buster Keaton was very talented as a director as well.

The production value is great, and it was interesting to find that it was filmed at the Olympic Auditorium, which still stands in downtown LA (as a church), and which would be used 50 years later in Rocky, and later in Raging Bull. Snitz Edwards is a great comic foil to Keaton, and pretty funny in his own right. Sally O'Neil brings the requisite sweetness to her part, as well as a pretty good arm when she's throwing things at Snitz and Buster early on. I also liked Mary O'Brien, the 'other' Butler's wife too, especially the scene where she flirts with the hotel receptionist. There is a little bit of darkness to the other Butler (Francis McDonald) as he insults his wife and we see he's blackened her eye (off-screen), all of which amplify the emotional response we feel later in Buster's fury.
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A weak Keaton film, but a competent comedy
MissSimonetta28 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Battling Butler (1926) is not Buster Keaton's highest achievement by any means, but it is a fun, lightweight little movie. It's not filled with belly laughs, but great character development, a handsome and shirtless Buster Keaton, and a sweet romantic subplot all compensate.

Of note is Keaton's leading lady, Sally O'Neil, who defies the stereotype of the incompetent Keaton love interest. She's spunky, sweet, and able to take care of herself, certainly more so than her beloved.

The final fight where Buster lashes out in rage is bizarre, a jolt from the sleepy-eyed look he has throughout the film. He's so ferocious that it almost feels uncharacteristic of Keaton's established screen persona.

Overall, worth a watch if you crave some light entertainment.
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To and Fro
frankgaipa7 December 2002
This relatively slight Keaton effort includes some intricate identity switching, but let me describe instead one superb bit of choreography.

Near the end of the riverside idyll, rich pansy Keaton's met farmer's daughter Sally O'Neil, they've fallen for each other, and been discovered by her father and brother. After a brief unhappy confrontation, the father and brother disappear through a clump of trees to the left. Night comes, and Keaton walks O'Neil home through the same clump of trees. Arriving, they turn and face each other, somewhat at ease now, from opposite sides of the gate. The father and brother, seeming even larger than they are because they enter from nearer the camera, come storming from the right, pass between the couple, through the gate, and up some steps into the house. The couple look away from us to the house, then at each other. Keaton begins to take his leave, and they both look slightly right, roughly toward us, at the route he will take. He starts off, but takes fright of the trees. She sees, catches up and walks him home, then walks back. The to and fro, the coming and going, of all this is delightful. It's delightfully timed and executed. (If you pay closer attention than you're supposed to, you'll realize it's a smallish set, the forest is a tree or two, and Keaton's tent maybe 50 strides from the house, probably in full view of it.)

Great shot later: Keaton clad only in boxing shorts, shoes, and top hat, bare-chested, walking O'Neil through an authentic-looking evening-dressed crowd along a real-looking downtown street.
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Not His Best Work
prionboy20 January 2000
I was a bit disappointed with this movie, especially since it's billed as his most successful at the box office. Some of the gags are very good and it's always interesting to watch Buster in action, but the plot centered around his posing as a legitimate boxer was not very captivating and the resolution was not satisfying. Keaton's movies always have fantastic endings, so this was the exception to the rule. Only Keaton fanatics need to see this one. He made another movie in 1926. It was called, oh gee, what was it again?.... Oh yeah! The General! That's the one to see. In addition, the two shorts included in this set - The Haunted House and The Frozen North - are also unremarkable. Again, only for Keaton fanatics.
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Buster Keaton is "Battling Butler"!
H_A_Wellington_IV8 October 2004
Battling Butler (1926) was a funny film by comedian/director Buster

Keaton. This is one of his lesser known films that he made before the

classic The General. Keaton plays a soft "mama's boy". His father decides

that his son needs to toughen up. So he does everything he can to make a

man out of his son. Meanwhile, Buster finds true romance with a nice girl. Can Keaton become a man and win the girl or will he always be a weakling?

A fun film from Buster Keaton. The usual stunts and prat falls are in this

picture. Old stone face can take an average storyline and breath some life

into it. The direction is executed very well and the film has a very quaint

ending. Not a classic by any means, just an entertaining film.

Recommended for Buster Keaton fans.

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Where's the Pork Pie Hat?
bsmith555229 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
For some unknown reason, Buster Keaton seemed to enjoy lampooning the idle rich. Once again he plays the no account rich son of a wealthy family.

Alfred Butler (Keaton) is a lazy lay about who has a faithful valet (Snitz "arrange that" Edwards) at his service. To make a man of him, Butler's father sends him on a camping trip with his valet. Alfred has all of the comforts of home including an ice box (the iceman cometh each day), newspaper delivery, a comfortable bed etc. etc.

The pair embark on a hunting excursion, but in spite of game all about them, Alfred fails to see the animals. What he does do is accidentally discharge his gun (backwards no less) and come upon a comely young mountain girl (Sally O'Neil) with whom he becomes immediately smitten. After rescuing Alfred from a failed fishing trip, the girl takes Alfred home to meet her father (Walter James) and brother (Bud Fine). The two are not impressed with Alfred and consider him to be unworthy of the girl.

When the valet goes to "arrange" the marriage, he sees a picture of prize fighter Alfred "Battling" Butler (Francis McDonald) in the newspaper and decides to masquerade Buster as the fighter in order to gain the respect of the girl's family. You know where this is going to lead.

Thinking Buster has won the world championship, and with her family's blessing, the two marry. Buster and Snitz decide that the deception must continue as "Battling" Butler is to begin training the very next day for the defense of his title. And the fun begins.

Buster tries to work out with the champion but is found out. The champ walks out and his manager (Eddie Borden) and trainer (Tom Wilson)are told to get Buster in shape for the fight. The fight day arrives and.....................................................

This was not Buster Keaton's best feature. In the first place, gone is his famous pork pie hat. He dresses, except for the training and fight sequences, in rich man's clothes throughout. He just doesn't look comfortable in that attire. Maybe that was intended, I don't know. Up to the point that he goes into training, I didn't think the film was all that funny. The laughs are just too few and far between during the first part of the film. The climatic fight at the film's climax was a little hard to believe in my opinion.

Buster would hit a home run however, with his next film, "The General".

As an aside, Francis McDonald had a career that spanned well over 50 years from the early silents to the 1960s. He was a regular in westerns playing mostly despicable characters is parts of varying size. He did have a small but effective part in Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments" (1956).
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Quality Keaton
thinbeach4 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Buster plays a pampered wealthy aristocrat, who in order to experience a bit of rough and tumble and become "a real man" as his father wishes, goes on a hunting and camping expedition with his assistant. As is often the case in Keaton films he is a fish out of water, and we get numerous funny moments about the foolishness of someone in an unfamiliar environment - from uncertainty about walking through the woods at night, to dining in a suit with three sets of cutlery on a table (with cloth of course) erected by the river. While there he meets a beautiful woman he wishes to marry, but her hard edged father and brother won't approve of such a city slicker who appears unable to look after himself without an assistant, so Buster is forced to assume the identity of a champion boxer with the same name in order to win them over. This leads him to a training camp in the mountains, where the real champion boxer mistakenly believes Buster is flirting with his wife, and a nasty grudge ensues.

The tightly woven plot is one of Keaton's best, full of twists that while improbable, are not outside the realm of possibility enough to turn you away, and we humorously get a story about the power of attraction, and the lengths one will go to in order to win the one they love. As usual with Keaton films, it is often the small details along the way that charm the best. A scene where the two young lovers are so involved in their conversation they don't notice the table and chairs sinking into the soft ground until their faces are only inches apart. It is moments like these that show why Keaton was one of, if not the greatest silent filmmaker, for without dialogue he is expertly able to show the progression of the relationship from far apart strangers to infatuated friends, with a wonderful visual and a laugh to boot. Elsewhere he gets good laughs out of the difficulty climbing in and out of a boxing ring, the dangerous driving of country roads, and the unreliability of newspaper columns - the love advice therein proving of no help. It also happens to feature excellent cinematography, some of the finest cinematography I've seen in a Keaton film.

If there is one let down to this film however, unusually for Keaton, it is the climax. While not without it's charms, it fails to deliver the otherworldly uniqueness of his more regarded films, which is probably the reason it doesn't tend to be raved about as much. Still, just as it doesn't reach his highest of highs, it doesn't fall to any lows either, and is a joy to watch.
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Amusing but minor
Sleepy-1721 January 2000
Keaton shows off his physical mimicry as a wealthy fop who must train as a prize fighter, but the climactic payoff doesn't deliver so great a punch: Keaton misses the Big Bout and fights the winner in the locker room! Good stuff, but a lesser effort.
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