1928? This film feels like quite a step backwards for Buster Keaton. It’s full of cheap gags about people bumping into things, falling over, not being unable to work out revolving doors and other basic slapstick. Silly stuff, that’s usually only mildly amusing like two men getting changed in the same cubicle, losing swimming togs in a public pool and a young man having his brain fried so much by love that he’s unable to function properly. There aren’t really any eye-opening stunts. There is, however, a very sweet, innocent love story. That, and a monkey…

The Cameraman grows on you. It has a narrative strength that somehow allows it to be better than it is. It lacks the elaborate stunts, artistically-framed shots and laugh-out-loud funniness of Keaton’s other films but it’s still a minor delight. It has that Keaton charm. Marceline Day is great as Sally – strong, beautiful, kind and capable of acting without over-expressing. The cheap gags I’ve criticised are still amusing enough to keep you watching while the narrative builds into something you want to see the end of. There’s a monkey in it and they’re always funny. It makes its appearance as the plot starts to pick up… or maybe it’s the monkey that saves the film?

While weak in comparison to the likes of The General, Seven Chances and The Navigator, there’s certainly something in The Cameraman for Keaton fans and silent film lovers. Other people may find it amusing enough but I wouldn’t recommend that they seek it out before first becoming one of the other two kinds of people.

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