Monday, March 29, 2021

Speak Easily - 1932 - Editing Exercise - Sequence 2 - The TRAIN

The first sequence was a warm up for this class project to play with the 1932 Keaton film, "Speak Easily."

Once the Professor has been informed of a $750,000 inheritance, he is off to seek companionship and rub elbows with the common man.  Instead, he encounters Jimmy Durante and an impoverished vaudeville troupe.  I ran the clip from the original film, and then we made suggestions based on what we saw.  To be honest, I had already made the edit for this portion, but the students were a savvy lot and they identified nearly everything destined for the cutting-room floor.

Here is how it ran in 1932:

One line everyone seemed to like was, "I'll tell it to the guy with the face."  Other than that, the questions were, "What does the baby have to do with anything besides being a prop?  Can we get the baby to stop crying? Why does Jimmy tell the joke twice?  Why does the professor have to repeat 'equivocate'? Why can't we get more camera movement? Why aren't there second takes when lines get muffed or talked over?  Was this when Keaton was drinking? Why are they going on past the best line to close a shot?"  

During this sequence, the audience learns that the inheritance was a ruse by the professor's butler (well, a shared butler, I guess...what kind of college is this?!?).   His confession is staged in another cavernous set at a college where buildings are 50% higher than they should be to accommodate the high ceilings.

So I showed them my edited version, and they suggested further cuts and resized shots which were then incorporated:

The 1932 scene ran 10 minutes, 36 seconds.  The edited version came in at 8 minutes, 34 seconds.  Already we have trimmed about a third of a reel!  It won't be the last time Henry Armetta gets his underwritten and overacted part trimmed in the course of this project.

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