The "worst mistake" of Buster Keaton's career is also one of his most perfectly written and shot comedies and a slapstick gem.
Buster, a sidewalk tintype portrait photographer in New York City, develops a crush on Sally, a secretary who works for MGM Newsreels. To be near her, he purchases an old film camera, emptying his bank account, and attempts to get a job as one of MGM's filmers. Harold, an MGM cameraman who has designs on Sally himself, mocks his ambition.
The Cameraman was Keaton's first film with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It is considered by fans and critics to be Keaton still in top form, and it was added to the National Film Registry in 2005 as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
Within a little over a year, however, MGM would take away Keaton's creative control over his pictures, thereby causing drastic and long-lasting harm to his career. Keaton was later to call the move to MGM "the worst mistake of my career.”
The film was overseen by producer Lawrence Weingarten. Weingarten and Keaton fought on set and Weingarten called Keaton a child. Keaton was accustomed to complete control over his own productions and was unaccustomed to interference from producers. However MGM's head of production Irving Thalberg loved the finished film and laughed during screenings of its rushes (a rare display of emotion from Thalberg). 22 writers were assigned to work on it, but Keaton convinced Thalberg to throw out the script and allow him to film it his own way.
The film was a box office hit, grossing $797,000, and was well-received by film critics. MGM writing department used the film to train new writers as a "perfectly constructed comedy" for decades.
The Cameraman was Keaton's first film with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It is considered by fans and critics to be Keaton still in top form, and it was added to the National Film Registry in 2005.
The soundtrack for "The Cameraman" follows the trail of other scores written by Brais González for Buster Keaton's films, with a mixture of swing music, Dixieland and Caspervek's own developed style. The original music was written for the usual band formation, violin, percussion and piano, later developing versions also for clarinet and flute.