Buster Keaton Poster

Quotes (25)

  • No man can be a genius in slapshoes and a flat hat.
  • Tragedy is a close-up; comedy, a long shot.
  • I gotta do some sad scenes. Why, I never tried to make anybody cry in my life! And I go 'round all the time dolled up in kippie clothes--wear everything but a corset . . . can't stub my toe in this picture nor anything! Just imagine having to play-act all the time without ever getting hit with anything!
  • [Asked by a reporter at an MGM premiere, "Are you happy to be here?"] Of course, I got off location for this!
  • What used to get my goat at MGM were comedians like The Marx Brothers or [Bud Abbott] and [Lou Costello], who never worried about the script or the next scene. My God, we ate, slept and dreamed our pictures.
  • Is Hollywood the cruelest city in the world? Well, it can be. New York can be like that, too. You can be a Broadway star here one night, and something happens, and then you're out--nobody knows you on the street. They forget you ever lived. It happens in Hollywood, too.
  • The first thing I did in the studio was to want to tear that camera to pieces. I had to know how that film got into the cutting room, what you did to it in there, how you projected it, how you finally got the picture together, how you made things match. The technical part of pictures is what interested me. Material was the last thing in the world I thought about. You only had to turn me loose on the set and I'd have material in two minutes, because I'd been doing it all my life.
  • They say pantomime's a lost art. It's never been a lost art and never will be, because it's too natural to do.
  • [on his time working as an uncredited gag writer for The Marx Brothers at MGM] It was an event when you could get all three of them on the set at the same time. The minute you started a picture with the Marx Brothers you hired three assistant directors, one for each Marx brother. You had two of 'em while you went to look for the third one and the first two would disappear.
  • Think slow, act fast.
  • Silence is of the gods; only monkeys chatter.
  • [on the differences between his and Charles Chaplin's characters] Charlie's tramp was a bum with a bum's philosophy. Lovable as he was, he would steal if he got the chance. My little fellow was a working man and honest.
  • All my life, I have been happiest when the folks watching me said to each other, "Look at the poor dope, will ya?".
  • Not long ago, a friend asked me what was the greatest pleasure I got from spending my whole life as an actor. There have been so many that I had to think about that for a moment. Then I said, "Like everyone else, I like to be with a happy crowd.".
  • Dumb show is best for screen people, if they must appear in public.
  • I've had few dull moments [in my life] and not too many sad and defeated ones. In saying this, I am by no means overlooking the rough and rocky years I've lived through. But I was not brought up thinking life would be easy. I always expected to work hard for my money and to get nothing I did not earn. And the bad years, it seems to me, were so few that only a dyed-in-the-wool grouch who enjoys feeling sorry for himself would complain.
  • Only things that one could imagine happening to real people, I guess, remain in a person's memory.
  • When I've got a gag that spreads out, I hate to jump a camera into close-ups. So I do everything in the world I can to hold it in that long-shot and keep the action rolling. Close-ups are too jarring on the screen, and this type of cut can stop an audience from laughing.
  • Half of our scenes, for God's sakes, we only just talked over. We didn't actually get out there and rehearse 'em. We would just walk through it and talk about it. We crank that first rehearsal. Because any thing can happen--and generally did . . . We used the rehearsal scenes instead of the second take.
  • [on the advent of sound in the movies] In every picture it got tougher. They'd laugh their heads off at dialogue written by all your new writers. They were joke-happy. They didn't look for action; they were looking for funny things to say.
  • I always want the audience to out-guess me, and then I double-cross them.
  • A comedian does funny things. A good comedian does things funny.
  • [on why he did all his own stunts] Stuntmen don't get laughs.
  • Pop made me the featured performer of our act when I was five. There were dozens of other family acts in vaudeville at the turn of the century, but none of the children in them was featured as early as that. Many of those kids were very talented, and their parents were as eager as mine to give them the same head start in show business that I was getting. The reason managers approved of my being featured was because I was unique, being at that time the only little hell-raising Huck Finn type boy in vaudeville. The parents of the others presented their boys as cute and charming Little Lord Fauntleroys. The girls were Dolly Dimples types with long, golden curls. I doubt that any kid actor had more attempts made to save him [by civic do-gooders] than did our Little Buster. The reason of course was our slam-bang act. Even people who most enjoyed our work marvelled when I was able to get up after my bashing, crashing, smashing sessions with pop.
  • Railroads are a great prop. You can do some awful wild things with railroads.