Saturday, October 10, 2015

50 Years Ago Today Snoopy Fought the Red Baron for the First Time

It was 50 years ago today in the comic strip Peanuts that Snoopy first fantasised he was a World War I Flying Ace batting the Red Baron. Of Snoopy's various fantasy lives, that of the World War I Flying Ace would prove to the most popular and the one that probably comes to most people's mind. He fantasised he was an author before he dreamed of being a Flying Ace, first typing the words "It was a dark and stormy night" earlier in 1965 (the phrase was actually the opening line of Edward Bulwer-Lytton's 1830 novel Paul Clifford). Later he would fantasise he was college student Joe Cool or a member of the French Foreign Legion. In the end, however, the Flying Ace would prove to the best loved of Snoopy's various fantasy lives.

Indeed, Snoopy believing he was a World War I Flying Ace would have an impact on pop culture almost immediately. In 1966 The Royal Guardsmen would have a hit with the song "Snoopy vs. The Red Baron", which went to no. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. As the band had failed to get Charles M. Schulz's permission, Quality Records in Canada refused to release the song there, so it was rewritten and re-recorded as "Squeaky vs. the Black Knight". Fortunately Charles M. Schulz eventually gave the song his blessing so it was released in Canada in its original form. The Royal Guardsmen released a sequel to "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron", "The Return of the Red Baron" in 1967 and later that year "Snoopy's Christmas". The band released one last Snoopy single, "Snoopy For President", in 1968.

The popularity of Snoopy as the Flying Ace was so great that when the Snoopy balloon made its debut in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1968 Snoopy was portrayed as the aviator. Snoopy would be changed to an astronaut in 1969, but the World War I Flying Ace would reappear as a balloon in the parade in 1979 and continued to appear until 1986. A new version of Snoopy as the Flying Ace appeared in the parade from 2006 to 2011. In 1966 a book, Snoopy and the Red Baron was published. There would also be two different video games--an Atari game titled Snoopy and the Red Baron in 1983 and a PlayStation 2/PlayStation Portable/PC game titled Snoopy vs. the Red Baron in 2006.  Snoopy also appeared as the Flying Ace in several of the Peanuts TV specials as well as many, many bits of merchandise.

Snoopy's fantasy of being a Flying Ace locked in battle with the Red Baron was the end result of an evolution of the character over the years. When Snoopy first appeared in Peanuts on October 4 1950 (the comic strip was only two days old) he was a dog who walked on all fours. It was on May 27 1952 that Snoopy's thoughts were first conveyed via a thought balloon. It was only a few months later, on October 19 1952, that Snoopy was portrayed as dancing on two legs. On January 9 1956 he actually ice-skated across a frozen pond. Finally, on June 28 1957, Snoopy walked on two legs and would continue to do so afterwards. It would be in 1965 that Snoopy's fantasy life would start to develop, fantasising that he was a writer and a Flying Ace. By the early Seventies he would be Joe Cool and various other characters as well.

As hard as it is for many fans of Snoopy to believe, there are those who believe that Snoopy actually ruined Peanuts. In the article "Against Snoopy" published in the New York Press on January 4 2000, journalist Christopher Caldwell argued exactly that. The evolution of Snoopy from an ordinary dog to one who walks on two legs and has an active fantasy life certainly did change Peanuts. In its early days and even into the Sixties Peanuts could be a very dark comic strip, particularly for one about children. The characters of Peanuts could be selfish and even cruel to each other. Even Charlie Brown, who evolved into a down and out Everyman, could be mean at times. The characters, particularly Charlie Brown, often expressed very bleak and depressing views of the world. This was largely what set Peanuts apart from other comic strips that had come before it. While there had been intellectual comic strips before Peanuts (both Krazy Kat and Pogo come to mind), never before had anyone saddled children in a comic strip with existentialist angst.

The sheer bleakness of Peanuts certainly made the comic strip revolutionary and there can be no doubt that it was largely responsible for the comic strip's increasing popularity in the Fifties. At the same time, however, it made Peanuts sometimes a very depressing comic strip to read. It is perhaps for this reason that Charles M. Schulz started adding bits of whimsy to the strip as the Fifties progressed, such as the Kite Eating Tree and Linus's obsession with the Great Pumpkin. It is also perhaps why Snoopy began having his own thoughts, walking on two legs, and fantasising about being a novelist and a Flying Ace.

In my opinion, then, Snoopy actually improved Peanuts. As it originally appeared Peanuts was a brilliant and truly revolutionary comic strip. It was also a very depressing one. Reading an entire collection of those early strips one can be overpowered by the sheer bleakness of the early Peanuts. Snoopy brought balance to a comic strip that was in some ways overly negative. Here was a character who was generally optimistic, who had fantasies of being a World War I Flying Ace or Joe Cool, and who added a sense of whimsy to a comic strip that at times could be too dark. That is not to say that Snoopy was entirely at odds with the rather existentialistic vibe of Peanuts.  In a 1997 interview published in The Comics Journal's December issue, Charles M. Schulz said of Snoopy, "He has to retreat into his fanciful world in order to survive. Otherwise, he leads kind of a dull, miserable life. I don't envy dogs the lives they have to live." In other words, Snoopy has a good deal in common with Walter Mitty or Billy Fisher of Billy Liar. He has a rich fantasy life because his real life is so dull.

Now that is not to say that I do not think the comic strip declined as the Seventies progressed. I do think giving Snoopy an extended family was a mistake--Peanuts seemed to grind to a halt any time his brother Spike appeared. At the same time many long running characters stopped appearing. Characters such as "mean girl" Violet and the narcissistic Freida appeared less frequently and eventually stopped appearing altogether (Violet in the Nineties, Freida in the Eighties). And while I like the character of Woodstock over all, in later years I thought he and Snoopy sometimes overwhelmed the comic strip. That having been said, I have to suspect that Peanuts would have declined even if Snoopy had never walked on two legs. Quite simply, it was not the focus on Snoopy that resulted in the comic strip's decline, but the fact that, like the Fifties, Peanuts was no longer balanced. Instead of too much existential angst, it was too little.

Regardless, Snoopy as the World War I Flying Ace certainly struck a chord with Peanuts' readers. Snoopy's fantasies of fighting the Red Baron had such an impact on popular culture that when many, perhaps most, people picture Snoopy it may be as the Flying Ace. As to why Snoopy's fantasy of being a Flying Ace proved so popular, I suspect it is because many people can identify with it. Quite simply, I think many people, if not most, at some point or another engage in daydreams to escape their otherwise drab and dreary lives. In some respects this makes Snoopy a more complex and deeper character than many of the other members of the Peanuts gang. Strangely enough, even though he walks on two legs and sleeps atop his doghouse, his rich fantasy life in some ways makes Snoopy one of the most realistic characters in the Peanuts canon.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Birthday of Two Fellows Named John

October 9 must be a very good date for British rock and roll. It was on this date that two members of legendary British bands from the Sixties were born. Many people know that October 9 is the birthday of John Lennon, founding member and leader of The Beatles. Not so many people know that it is also the birthday of John Entwistle, founding member and original bassist of The Who. Today is the 75th anniversary of John Lennon's birth--he was born on October 9 1940. Today is the seventy first anniversary of John Entwistle's birth--he was born on October 9 1944.

Without further ado here are two songs by each of these two men named John. First is John Lennon with his classic song "Imagine". Second is John Entwistle's song "My Wife", performed by The Who.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Frank Albanese Passes On

Frank Albanese, who played Uncle Pat on episodes of The Soparnos, died on October 5 2015. The cause was prostate cancer.

Frank Albanese was born on May 6 1931 in Staten Island, New York City. He had been a prizefighter who had trained under Rocky Graziano. He retired from boxing after he developed scar tissue on his brain and afterwards worked as a longshoreman. He made his film debut in an uncredited role in The Brotherhood (1968). He appeared in Plaza Suite (1971) and the television movie Honour Thy Father. He appeared in such films as Goodfellas (1990), Dead Presidents (1995), Rose Woes and Joe's (2005), Mattie Fresno and the Holoflux Universe (2007), Meatballs, Tomatoes and Mobsters (2008), Old Secrets No Lies (2010), Shake Road (2010), A Dance with Andrea (2012), and Divided (2013). He appeared on the TV shows America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back and The Sopranos.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Kevin Corcoran R.I.P.

Kevin Corcoran, a child actor who went on to work on the other side of the camera, died on October 6 2015 at the age of 66. He may be best known as the youngest son in the Disney classic Old Yeller. The cause was colorectal cancer.

Kevin Corcoran was born in Santa Monica, California on June 10 1949. His father worked on the MGM lot as a security guard, which is where he was discovered as a child. He made his film debut in an uncredited role in The Glenn Miller Story in 1954. Over the next few years he appeared in the films Untamed (1955), Violent Saturday (1955), and The Birds and the Bees (1956), as well as episodes of December Bride and The Ford Television Theatre. His first work for Disney was in serials made for The Mickey Mouse Club: ""Adventure in Dairyland", "Further Adventures of Spin and Marty", and "The New Adventures of Spin and Marty". For the remainder of the Fifties he appeared in such Disney films as Old Yeller (1957), The Shaggy Dog (1959), The Rabbit Trap (1959), Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks with a Circus (1960), Pollyanna (1960), and Swiss Family Robinson (1960).

In the Sixties he appeared in the films Babes in Toyland (1961), Bon Voyage! (1962), Savage Sam (1963), A Tiger Walks (1964), and Blue (1968). He appeared in several episodes of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Colour. He also guest starred on Wagon Train, The Littlest Hobo, and My Three Sons.

Mr Corcoran attended California State University in Northridge where he received a bachelor's degree in theatre. While he  had given up acting, he would continue to work in film and television on the other side of the camera. He was an assistant to the producer on Treasure of Matecumbe (1976). He served as an associate producer on the films Return from Witch Mountain (1978), Hot Lead and Cold Feet (1978), and Herbie Goes Bananas (1980). He was a producer of the Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Colour episode "The Kids Who Knew Too Much".

In the Eighties he served as a producer on the TV shows Herbie, the Love Bug; Zorro and Son; Whiz Kids; and Murder, She Wrote. He also served as an assistant director on the TV shows Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Simon & Simon, and Baywatch.

In the Nineties he served as an assistant director on the shows Quantum Leap; Murder, She Wrote; Profiler; and Providence. In the Naughts he served as a producer on the TV shows The Shield and Sons of Anarchy. He served as a production manager on those two shows as well. He was an assistant director on the TV shows Karen Sisco, Crossing Jordan, and Sleeper Cell.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Gilmore Girls Turns 15

Fifteen years ago, on October 6, 2000, Gilmore Girls debuted on The WB.  I watched that debut episode with my mother, and I have to admit I really did not expect too much from the show. After all, while The WB had aired both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, they were best then known for rather overwrought teen soap operas. Fortunately Gilmore Girls far exceeded my expectations. It was not a teen soap opera, but a well written, well acted comedy-drama made for adults. Unfortunately following the second episode I would miss the rest of the first season. As it turned out, my mother died after the second episode aired, making Gilmore Girls the last show she ever watched. As a result I found I just couldn't bring myself to watch Gilmore Girls. Eventually I was able to start watching Gilmore Girls again, and I got caught up on the first season through reruns. It has become one of my favourite shows of all time.

For those unfamiliar with the show, Gilmore Girls centres on  Lorelai Gilmore (played by Lauren Graham), a single mother who left the privileged life of her parents for a quieter life in the small town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut. She has a close relationship with her daughter, also named Lorelai Gilmore (played by Alexis Bledel) but called by her nickname "Rory". At the beginning of the show Lorelai is the manager of the Independence Inn. Particularly at the start of the show, Lorelai's relationship with her parents,  Emily and Richard Gilmore (played by Kelly Bishop and Edward Herrmann respectively) is difficult, to say the least. The townsfolk of Stars Hollow play major roles on Gilmore Girls, and many of them are as central to the show as the Gilmores themselves. Quite simply, like Mayberry, North Carolina and Cicely, Alaska before it, Stars Hollow is a town filled with some rather colourful characters.

Gilmore Girls was created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, who had previously served as a story editor on Roseanne and created the short lived show Love and Marriage. Her inspiration for the show stemmed from a trip to Washington, Connecticut and the inn that she stayed at there, the Mayflower Inn. She was impressed by both the small town atmosphere (the population of Washington, Connecticut as of 2010 was 3,578 people) and the inn at which she stayed (the Mayflower Inn).

Upon its debut Gilmore Girls was well received by critics.  It also did very well in the ratings for a show airing on The WB. At its peak it was viewed by about 5.2 million viewers, not that far off from another cult show that had debuted on The WB, Buffy the Vampre Slayer (which received 5.3 million viewers at its height). The show ultimately lasted seven seasons. Its cancellation did not come due to a decline in popularity, as is the case with many shows, but instead due to an unresolved contract dispute with The CW, the network that had resulted from the merger of The WB and UPN during the penultimate season of Gilmore Girls. While Gilmore Girls had been cancelled, it was hardly dead. The show found new life as a syndicated rerun where it has persisted ever since. The show ran for many years on the ABC Family Channel and SOAPnet, and is currently airing on UpTV. The show is also available on Netflix and Amazon Video.

There can be no doubt that much of the success of Gilmore Girls was due to its excellent cast. Lauren Graham was ideally cast as Lorelai Gilmore, so much so it is hard to see anyone else in the part. Kelly Bishop and Edward Herrmann both excelled as Lorelai's parents--little wonder given their considerable experience on Broadway. The care taken in casting Gilmore Girls even extended as far as the townspeople of Stars Hollow. Every actor did well in his or her role.

Of course, much of the show's success is also due to the show's excellent writing.  Amy Sherman-Palladino created a show in which the characters were four-dimensional and the dialogue often came very fast. And while the show was filled with pop culture references, it was also very intelligent. There were references to Madame Bovary and NSync, references to Moby Dick and Casablanca. It seems likely that many of the pop culture references on Gilmore Girls might have gone above the heads of some younger viewers.

While Gilmore Girls boasted both a great cast and great writing, ultimately I think its success might largely rest with the format of the show itself. Gilmore Girls has at times been called a "family drama", and certainly the Gilmores are the heart of the show. That having been said, in many respects Gilmore Girls is about Stars Hollow as much as it is the family. Gilmore Girls then actually has less in common with family dramas like Eight is Enough and Seventh Heaven, and more in common with shows about quirky small towns, such as The Andy Griffith Show, Northern Exposure, and Doc Martin. Indeed, even though Stars Hollow is in Connecticut, as a resident of a small town in Missouri I can readily identify with the town. My hometown has the same sort of offbeat characters and small town problems that Stars Hollow has, and I suspect most small towns do as well. All small towns have someone like Kirk, someone like Luke, and even someone like Taylor. Of course, even urban dwellers who have never experienced life in a small town could probably still identify with Stars Hollow to a degree. I rather suspect most people, even those in cities, know at least one person like at least one of the residents of Stars Hollow, possibly more.

Despite the fact that the decade was dominated by police procedurals, reality shows, competition shows, and game shows, I suspect Gilmore Girls will be the most lasting show to emerge from the Naughts. People will still be watching the show fifteen years from now and even fifty years from now. While other family dramas have fallen by the wayside, I suspect Gilmore Girls will continue to be seen for years to come.

Monday, October 5, 2015

"O Great Pumpkin" from Robot Chicken

November 6 2015 will see the release of The Peanuts Movie. It will be the first feature length film based on the comic strip in thirty five years and, unless I am mistaken, the first time the Peanuts gang will be computer animated. That having been said, this is not the first time the Peanuts gang was portrayed in something other than cel animation. In the sixth episode of the first season of the animated sketch comedy show Robot Chicken, the Peanuts gang appeared in stop-motion animation. Of course, the sketch in which they appeared, "O Great Pumpkin", was a very dark parody of Peanuts rather than an official Peanuts release. Indeed, it is very fitting to watch during the month of Halloween and, I have to warn you, very violent.

Without further ado, here is "O Great Pumpkin"

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The 120th Anniversary of Buster Keaton's Birth

It was 120 years ago today, on October 4 1895, that legendary actor, director, screenwriter, and stuntman Buster Keaton was born. Arguably he was one of the first true auteurs in the history of film. He not only wrote and directed in his own films, but acted in them and performed his own stunts as well. Indeed, he was one of the earliest film actors to take up directing. From 1920 to 1929 he wrote and directed some of the greatest movies ever made.

Buster Keaton was born Joseph Frank Keaton in Piqua, Kansas to a family of vaudeville performers. His mother and father were Myrna and Joe Keaton, who began performing together in medicine shows and on vaudeville shortly after their marriage in 1894. As to how young Joseph Frank Keaton earned his nickname "Buster", Buster Keaton said that when he was eighteen months old he took a tumble down a flight of stairs without being hurt. Harry Houdini was present when this happened and remarked, "That was a real buster!"--at the time "buster" being slang for a fall that could produce a serious injury. Afterwards Joe Keaton began referring to his son as "Buster" and the nickname stuck. Whether the story was true or not, Buster Keaton was known as "Buster" from an early age.

When Buster Keaton was three years old he joined his mother and father on stage as part of "The Three Keatons". The Keatons' style of comedy was very physical, and often involved Joe Keaton throwing young Buster Keaton about the stage. There were those who actually thought the Keatons were guilty of child abuse. What they did not realise is that young Buster had been trained to land in such a way so that he would not be injured. Unfortunately Joe Keaton's alcoholism would eventually lead to the break up of The Three Keatons. Buster Keaton and his mother Myrna left the act and moved to New York. During World War I Buster Keaton served with the 40th Infantry Division of the United States Army in France.

In 1917 Buster Keaton was performing in the stage show The Passing Show of 1917. One day he visited Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle at the Talmadge Studios in New York City. Ultimately the meeting resulted in Buster Keaton making his film debut in Mr. Arbuckle's short "The Butcher Boy". Roscoe Arbuckle and Buster Keaton proved to be a good team, and Mr. Keaton appeared in 14 Roscoe Arbuckle shorts from 1917 to 1920.  It was in 1917 that Mr. Keaton made his debut as a director on the short "The Rough House". It also marked his first credit as a screenwriter as well.  The Saphead  in 1920 gave Buster Keaton his first starring role in a feature film debut.

The success of The Saphead launched Buster Keaton on his career as a lead actor in comedy films. Beginning in 1920 he starred in several short films, many of which he also directed and wrote. The year 1923 would see the release of the first feature film that Buster Keaton wrote, directed, and produced, as well as played the lead. Three Ages would mark the beginning of what could be considered the height of Buster Keaton's career. Over the next few years he starred in, directed, and wrote some of his best known films:  Our Hospitality (1923), Sherlock Jr. (1924), The Navigator (1924), Go West (1925), The General (1926), Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928), and The Cameraman (1928). Not only were many of the films Buster Keaton made during this period considered among his very best, but many of them are also counted among the greatest films ever made.

Indeed, The General is often counted not only as Buster Keaton's greatest film, but also among the greatest film comedies of all time. Unfortunately at the time of its release The General received mixed reviews. Worse yet, it did poorly at the box office, barely recouping its $750,000 budget. Sadly, the end result of the failure of The General was that Buster Keaton would never again be trusted with total control over his productions. For his next two films, College (1927) and Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928), Mr. Keaton's distributor United Artists insisted on the presence of a production manager who would keep track of the budget and could even tamper with plot elements. Afterwards Buster Keaton signed with MGM where his first film was The Cameraman (1928). It was in 1930 that Mr. Keaton made the transition to sound with the film Free and Easy.

Sadly, the early Sound Era would not prove to be a good one for Buster Keaton. While MGM allowed Mr. Keaton some degree of creative control over The Cameraman, afterwards Mr. Keaton found himself severely restricted by the studio system. Indeed, most of the sound films Buster Keaton made at MGM were directed by Edward Sedgwick rather than himself. At the same time that Buster Keaton found himself stifled creatively, his personal life was coming apart at the seams as well. By the time of  his last feature with MGM, What! No Beer? in 1933, he was going through a very messy divorce. Here it must be pointed out that contrary to popular belief, the sound films that Buster Keaton made at MGM were very successful at the box office. That having been said, Buster Keaton himself was not happy with them and following What! No Beer! MGM and Buster Keaton parted ways.

After leaving MGM Buster Keaton starred in the French film Le Roi des Champs-Élysées (1934), which was never released theatrically in the United States. Beginning in 1934 he made a series of short subjects for Educational Pictures that lasted until 1937. Starting in 1935 Mr. Keaton served as a gag writer on various MGM features, including the Marx Brothers films A Night at the Opera (1935) and At the Circus (1939), as well as various films in the "Jones Family" series. In 1936 he starred in the British feature comedy The Invader (1935).  In 1939 he began starring in a series of short subjects for Columbia Pictures that lasted until 1941.

The Forties would see Buster Keaton return to American feature films, although he played character roles rather than the lead roles he once did. He appeared in such films as The Villain Still Pursued Her (1940) and Li'l Abner (1940), and made cameos in such films as In the Good Old Summertime (1949) and Sunset Boulevard (1950). The late Forties would see Mr. Keaton's Silent Era work rediscovered by critics and film historians. Ultimately this would result in Buster Keaton having more visibility in the Fifties than he had for much of the Thirties and Forties. Quite simply, Buster Keaton appeared frequently on television.

Buster Keaton made his television debut in 1949 in the live television special The Buster Keaton Comedy Show, aired locally in California. In 1950 he starred in his own show, The Buster Keaton Show. The Buster Keaton Show aired live on Los Angeles Station KTTV. He subsequently appeared in a filmed TV series,  Life with Buster Keaton, which debuted in 1951.

Buster Keaton was a frequent guest star on television in the Fifties and Sixties. He appeared on such shows as Rheingold Theatre, Lux Video Theatre, Playhouse 90, The Ed Sullivan Show, What's My Line, I've Got a Secret, The Twilight Zone, Route 66, Burke's Law, and The Donna Reed Show. He also appeared in several television commercials throughout the two decades, including ones for Alka Seltzer, Ford, Jeep, Milky Way candy bars, Northwest Orient Airlines, Pure Oil, Simon Pure Beer, and United States Steel.

Of course, Buster Keaton also continued to appear in feature films. He had a significant role in fellow silent film legend Charlie Chaplin's film Limelight (1952). He had cameos in such films as Around the World in 80 Days (1956), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1960), and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963). He actually had somewhat more substantial roles in some of the "Beach Party" movies and related films, including appearances in Pajama Party (1964), Beach Blanket Bingo (1965), How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965), and Sergeant Deadhead (1965). He also had substantial roles in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966) and Due marines e un generale (1966--released under the title War Italian Style in English).  Sadly, the two films would be his last appearances on film. Buster Keaton died of lung cancer n February 1 1966. He was 70 years old.

Alongside Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton is regarded as one of the three great comic actors of the Silent Era. What is more, he is also one of the Silent Era's great auteurs. At a time when many actors only acted in films, Buster Keaton wrote, directed, and produced his movies as well as acted in them. What is more, Buster Keaton's films could be truly epic in scope, with set pieces one might not expect from a comedy. In Steamboat Bill Jr. a building literally fell down around him. In The General  he actually crashed a train. Indeed, with The General it can be argued that Buster Keaton invented a subgenre now well known to filmgoers, the action comedy.

That having been said, the appeal of Buster Keaton's films go well beyond sometimes impressive set pieces and incredible stunts (something he also shared in common with contemporary Harold Lloyd). Nearly all of Buster Keaton's films centred on an underdog who in the end, through sheer perseverance, if nothing else, emerges victorious. In Sherlock, Jr. he played a poor movie projectionist accused of theft. In Seven Chances he played the junior partner of a brokerage firm that was on the edge of bankruptcy. In The General he played a train engineer, rejected by the military, who must rescue a train stolen by the Union Army.  While there can be no doubt that audiences enjoyed (and still enjoy) the spectacle of Buster Keaton's films, much of their appeal perhaps rest with the fact that they portray characters who appear to have little chance of success, but who succeed through hard work and perseverance. Quite simply, Buster Keaton's films centre on the victory of the average man.

One hundred and twenty years after his birth Buster Keaton remains one of the best known figures from the Silent Era and one of the few who is still known to individuals who are not fans of classic film. He certainly had a huge impact on film. As mentioned earlier, he virtually invented action comedy with The General. He had an influence on such diverse artists as  Jacques Tati and Jackie Chan. Today, when many of his contemporaries have been forgotten, Buster Keaton is still regarded as both one of the greatest comic actors of all time and one of the greatest directors of all time.