interview with buster keaton

 Uncovering the Secrets of Silent Films

Out of the hundreds of hours of audio the Library of Congress has been digitizing for us, we could only choose a couple shows to feature on our main page, but we think we made the right decision in featuring this interview with Buster Keaton.

Nicknamed “the Great Stone Face”, Buster Keaton‘s combination of extreme pratfalls and understated facial expressions left an indelible print on American cinema. If you don’t believe us, ask Orson Wells! He personally dubbed Keaton’s film The General  “the greatest comedy ever made”.

Studs Terkel had the privilege of speaking with Keaton in 1960, only six years before Keaton passed away from lung cancer. Their conversation touches on the art of making a silent film and answers such important questions as how many subtitles should a silent movie have, who should you never throw a pie at, and why does Buster never smile. He also discusses the influence of Charlie Chaplin on film and the virtues of a live audience.