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WATCH: Rare Buster Keaton Footage Unearthed (VIDEO)

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood July 17, 2013 at 1:50PM

Historian Fernando Pena has made a rare find, reports Scott Foundas in Variety. Pena has unearthed an alternate European cut with French intertitles of silent comedy star Buster Keaton’s 1922 short “The Blacksmith," one of the countless two-reelers Keaton made for producer Joseph M. Schenck. This is an unusual case where two versions of the short--filmed with two side by side cameras-- are very different, including never before seen gags.
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Buster Keaton in 'The Blacksmith'
Buster Keaton in 'The Blacksmith'

Historian Fernando Pena has made a rare find, reports Scott Foundas in Variety.

Pena has unearthed an alternate European cut with French intertitles of silent comedy star Buster Keaton’s 1922 short “The Blacksmith," one of the countless two-reelers Keaton made for producer Joseph M. Schenck. This is an unusual case where two versions of the short--filmed with two side by side cameras-- are very different, including never before seen gags. Keaton-directed 1928 feature “Steamboat Bill Jr.” also boasts two versions. 

In the short Keaton plays a small-town iron forger who is assaulted by the tools of his trade such as a huge overhead magnet. As he tries to fix a tire on a fancy Rolls Royce, he completely destroys the car. 

Pena was plowing through a batch of 9.5mm film prints that were bought on eBay in 2008 by fellow collector Fabio Manes. The curator plans to restore the print so it can be seen by audiences. 

This article is related to: Buster Keaton, comedy, Shorts, Short Film, Shorts


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.