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Only One Chance To See Buster Keaton At Comfort Station

By Steven Pate in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 10, 2012 8:20PM

2012_09_10_seven_chances_keaton.png Wandering the halls of a Madrid art museum early on a weekday morning a couple of years ago, we were surprised by peals of riotous children’s laughter erupting every so often, seemingly without warning. Two or three times per minute, the stately silent atmosphere of fine art appreciation was punctured by the sounds of irresistible glee. When curiosity won out and we tracked down the source of amusement we couldn’t have been happier to find a whole class of Spanish kids sitting cross-legged on the floor, enraptured and put into stitches by Buster Keaton’s One Week.

Keaton’s visual eloquence and his films’ power to entertain remain nearly unmatched in the history of the movies, which is one reason why we always recommend Keaton to anyone who thinks they can’t “get into” a silent movie. Buster Keaton was a unique physical talent who successfully made the transition from vaudeville (where he supposedly earned his nickname performing at the age of 18 months) to the silver screen. He was also an extremely gifted filmmaker in his own right, whose enduring masterpieces such as The General, Our Hospitality, and Sherlock, Jr., among others, still surprise audiences to this day.

Keaton had a genius for taking pedestrian material and presenting it in a visually entertaining way. Case in point, Seven Chances, a lovely film plucked from a forgettable stage incarnation, showing this Wednesday as part of the consistently well programmed Logan Square International Film Series.

Buster stars as Jimmy Shannon, whose business is about to collapse just as he discovers that his grandfather’s will has left him the outrageous sum of $7 million. The only catch is that in order to receive the inheritance, he must be married by his 27th birthday, which happens to be that day. Things would be easier if his sweetheart would say yes, but what would be funny about that? Much funnier is the final chase scene, one of the greatest ever filmed, in which a massive crowd of gown and veil-sporting would-be brides, who have caught wind of the inheritance, are hot on the heels of our hero. Keaton showcasing his most masterfully slapstick, equal parts Charlie Chaplin, Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville, is something we never get tired of watching.

The Logan Square International Film Series presents Seven Chances in DVD projection on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Comfort Station, 2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.