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Buster Keaton  




First National Pictures, 1922.  Directed by Edward F. Cline, Buster Keaton.  Camera:  Elgin Lessley.  With Buster Keaton, Virginia Fox, Joe Keaton, Myra Keaton, Joe Roberts.

Buster broke his ankle when his foot was caught on the top of the escalator while filming the abandoned first version of The Electric House.  When he returned to the idea of the film, none of the old footage was used and new sets were created by Fred Gabourie.

The film begins with Buster receiving the wrong diploma at his college commencement.  Believed to be a qualified electrical engineer, he is commissioned by the college dean (Joe Roberts) to modernize his home with an assortment of electrical conveniences while he and his family are away.  Upon their return, Buster demonstrates the electric staircase, sliding doors, mechanical ball rack for the billiard table, and automatic swimming-pool drain.  The family is pleased with Buster's work until the house is eventually sabotaged by his fellow graduate—the real electrical engineer—who creates chaos by switching the wires.  Booted out of the electric house and into the automatic swimming pool, Buster is sucked down the plug-hole and floats out on a drain pipe.

The exteriors of the house were filmed at Buster's own Tudor-style home on Westmoreland Place.  Although Buster did not have fond memories of this film, owing to his broken ankle (he thought it a lack of professionalism to be hurt on such a routine stunt and to cause a halt to production), he loved the scenes of the electrical inventions.  Buster recreated the little dinner table railway in the film for the picnic table at his Woodland Hills ranch thirty-five years later.

Buster Keaton Remembered,
by Eleanor Keaton and Jeffrey Vance
Harry N. Abrams (April 2001)