It was a very warm and slightly breezy Sunday afternoon, the kind that’s easygoing and ideal for seeing a matinee. I returned to the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, where I met up with a co-worker of mine. She’d heard of Buster Keaton before, but had never seen one of his films, so like the Keaton-fan-recruiter (?) I am, I mentioned this screening to her and we decided to go.
I usually try to avoid parallel parking, but since there was a free open spot on a quiet street, I decided to go for it. My small accomplishment for the day. I walked down the block to reach the beautiful mission-style façade of the theater, where I spotted my co-worker waiting by the entrance. Our tickets had already been purchased, and we stepped inside the cooler, lofty interior. We had given ourselves enough spare time to find a seat and chat before the program started. The director walked onstage to talk about the program and theater’s restorations for a bit, before introducing our organist for the screening: Walt Strony.
It had been a while since I last attended a screening at a local (historic) theater, and I was greeted with my favorite sound of laughter echoing throughout the room. People applauded at some parts including Buster hopping on both the firetruck and bus without effort. I was also happy to hear my movie-watching buddy reacting positively to the film. By the end, my cheeks were hurting from laughing out loud. Although I’ve seen this movie a bunch of times and know what’s about to happen in each scene, I don’t think it will ever get old for me.
Soon the program would be over, and we all slipped back into our regular day-to-day lives. I’ve already written about The Cameraman before, but I just can’t tear myself away from most local Keaton screenings, no matter what film is showing. Even in my posts, I’m always trying to find something different or new to write about, and that can be perceived through the atmosphere of the theater and the crowd. Sometimes, though, the experience is all pretty much the same—which is good in this case! To see people enjoying the film of a silent comedian decades later will always put a smile on my face.