I well remember as a kid seeing his contemporaries Laurel & Hardy and Harold Lloyd regularly on TV, especially during the summer holidays, but somehow Buster never seemed to get shown, so I've never really seen his films.
To watch his short, silent epics of the early 1920s though, you can see a genius at work. As with Charlie Chaplin, he always played the down-on-his-luck everyday man, which appealed to audiences in those tough times.
With his unique looks and laconic expression he took his background in vaudeville and his music hall stage craft to these films.
They're a fantastic roller coaster of ideas and stunts, sometimes involving manic car chases on virtually empty Hollywood roads or gloriously clever set pieces filmed inside purpose-built houses.
The sheer invention and daring in these films, where Buster would do all his own stunts, takes your breath away. But there can also be time for a quiet, poignant moment as well.
He enjoyed a long career after these silent classics and was still working right up until he died in 1966.
His legacy and influence lives on today and we can still marvel at his kaleidoscope of ideas in those pioneering early films.
As a bonus, just recently I found an amazing set of 1920s film star cigarette cards at the brilliant Mrs Minivers unit at Battlesbridge Antique Centre in Essex.
The first card I noticed was the enigmatic portrait of Buster seen above. With his trademark dead-pan stare, I was immediately captivated by them. What a lucky find!
|This lovely set of cards, includes another silent movie star Harold Lloyd.|