Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Buster Keaton's third starring feature (discounting 1920's The Saphead, which was not conceived with Keaton in mind), Our Hospitality is a boisterous satire of family feuds and Southern codes of honor. In 1831, Keaton leaves his home in New York to take charge of his family mansion down South. En route, Keaton befriends pretty Natalie Talmadge (Keaton's real-life wife at the time), who invites him to dine at her family home. Upon meeting Talmadge's father and brothers, Keaton learns that he is the last surviving member of a family with whom Talmadge's kin have been feuding for over 20 years. The brothers are all for killing Keaton on the spot, but Talmadge's father (Joe Roberts) insists that the rules of hospitality be observed: so long as Keaton is a guest in the house, he will not be harmed. Thus, Keaton spends the next few reels alternately planning to sneak out of the mansion without being noticed, and contriving to remain within its walls as long as possible. The dilemma is resolved when Keaton rescues Talmadge from a raging waterfall (a dummy stood in for Talmadge; Keaton used no doubles, and nearly lost his life as a result). Beyond the brilliant sight gags in the closing scenes, the most memorable sequence in Our Hospitality is the bumpy train ride taken by Keaton and Talmadge in an 1831-vintage Stephenson Rocket. This 7-reel silent film represents the only joint appearance of Buster Keaton and Natalie Talmadge; Keaton hoped that by spending several weeks on location with his wife, he could patch up their shaky marriage (it didn't work). Also appearing in Our Hospitality are two other members of the Keaton family: Keaton's ex-vaudevillian father Joe (who performs an eye-popping "high kick") and his son Joseph Keaton IV, playing Buster as a baby.
family-feud, ancestry, family, rival, hospitality, journey, love, mansion, on-the-road, rescue, south, family-disapproval, train [locomotive], waterfall, forbidden-love, inheritance
High Artistic Quality