Buster Keaton’s ‘The Cameraman’ set to live music at Peace Lutheran Church in Grass Valley | TheUnion.com

Buster Keaton’s ‘The Cameraman’ set to live music at Peace Lutheran Church in Grass Valley

Trina Kleist
Special to Prospector

Buster Keaton called "The Cameraman" his favorite film. Silent Movies with Walt Strony presents Keaton's 1928 film for free, with live musical accompaniment, at 4 p.m. Sunday at Peace Lutheran Church in Grass Valley.

This event is a chance to experience the excitement, emotion and energy of silent film the way it was meant to be.

Keaton directed and starred in "The Cameraman," his first film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It marked the pinnacle of Keaton's creative genius, displaying both the comedy and the pathos of "Great Stone Face."

Organist and Grass Valley resident Strony — a nationally renowned performer at silent film festivals around the country — plans live music that will underscore the emotion and action on screen.

"It's one of my favorite Buster Keaton films because it's funny, yet it shows an emotional side to Keaton that you almost never see in other films," Strony said. "Keaton is the master of deadpan humor, and yet there are scenes here where his facial expressions show genuine sadness — but, then it gets funny again!

"And in true silent-era fashion, the major battle scene during tong war has gun smoke everywhere and windows breaking with people shooting at each other. Yet, no one seems to get wounded!"

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A free reception will follow the concert and screening.

"The Camerman" is a production of Arts at Peace Lutheran Church, the church's program of cultural events both secular and sacred in western Nevada County.

The church is located at 828 W. Main St., near downtown Grass Valley. The church offers ample parking and easy handicapped access.

Watch for the monkey

The premise of "Cameraman" relies on a news format that many locals will remember: the newsreel, which typically preceded feature films at cinemas into the late 1960s. It also portrays a cultural phenomenon the film's original viewers would have seen developing over the previous three decades: violent clashes between Chinese immigrant gangs called tongs.

"Keaton's character is trying to break into the newsreel business," Strony said. "He falters until, by chance, the girl he had fallen in love with and who works at a newsreel company gives him a tip that there may be a tong war."

The film is famous for a hilarious scene in a beachside changing room that highlights Keaton's love of sight gags. And, an organ-grinder's monkey becomes his sidekick, playing a major role in the action.

Strony plans to highlight the comedy by contrasting it with appropriate and authentic silent movie music. Concert-goers can listen for less-familiar selections from Amilcare Ponchielli's "Dance of the Hours" and Albert Ketèlbey's "In a Chinese Temple Garden."

"The music is very campy," Strony said. "This is pure comedy."

Trina Kleist is youth & outreach coordinator at Peace Lutheran Church. For more information visit http://www.PeaceLutheranGV.org.


WHAT: Silent Movies with Walt Strony presents Buster Keaton’s favorite film “The Cameraman”

WHEN: 4 p.m. Sunday. A free reception follows

WHERE: Peace Lutheran Church, 828 W. Main St., near downtown Grass Valley

COST: Free

INFO: Visit http://www.PeaceLutheranGV.org for more information

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