Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Speak Easily - 1932 - Editing Exercise - Sequences 3 and 4 - To the Show! and The Professor Saves the Show!


Sequence 3 of Speak Easily is one of the smoothest of the film.  It begins with goodbyes at the station, with Keaton getting mixed up with Jimmy Durante and then getting on the wrong train - the shot is one of the best composed of the feature, with Keaton staring ahead, while his departing train can be seen through the doorway behind him.  He is for a fleeting moment, a contented statue.

The banter with the station master is a well performed give and take, for as short as it is, followed by an undercranked ride in a jalopy.  Keaton is deposited in front of the opera house and, like his 1929 feature Spite Marriage, we get to see the troupe's performance before it is later disrupted by Keaton's inclusion.  

Very little needed attention here, a relief from the earlier sequences - however, we decided that some of the shots could have been tighter, in order to emphasize the action over the audio.  We let it stay "as is."

Sequence 4 gives the professor a chance to play hero to the troupe with his new-found "wealth."  It, too, was fairly smooth, but the class found a few things to trim after repeated viewings.

From 1932:

The class was noticing that Keaton appeared not necessarily clumsy by character, but unsteady.  We discussed his drinking problem that was accelerating during this production, and that multiple takes were probably not always an option.  If you get the chance to watch his second release of 1932, What, No Beer?, you'll find that his appearance is pasty and disheveled, his delivery hoarse, and he often seems unsteady on his feet.  This film has a few episodes of this, but he nevertheless used to refer to Speak Easily as one of his favorite of the sound MGM releases.  This is likely because his studio-abused character of playing a clumsy simpleton was at least fairly consistent here in the role of a slightly-foggy professor.

So, after a little trimming, this version for the editing project emerged:

The original sequence  ran 4 minutes, 45 seconds.  The edit came in at 4 minutes, 20 seconds. 

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