A hilarious mix of romantic comedy and historical cinema.

Three plots in three different historical periods—prehistoric times, Ancient Rome, and modern times (the Roaring Twenties)—are intercut to prove the point that man's love for woman has not significantly changed throughout history. In all three plots, characters played by the small and slight Buster Keaton and handsome bruiser Wallace Beery compete for the attention of the same woman, played by Margaret Leahy. 

The first feature Keaton wrote, directed, produced, is also a satire of D. W. Griffith's 1916 film Intolerance. The film was shot in this manner as a kind of insurance for the studio. While Keaton was a proven success in the short film medium, he had yet to prove himself as a feature-length star. Had the project flopped, the film would have been broken into three short films, each covering one of the 'Ages.'.

Three Ages prove the point that man's love for woman has not significantly changed throughout the history.

The Soundtrack

Three Ages allowed Caspervek to approach the scoring of a slapstick comedy soundtrack in a slightly different way. The usual classical jazz and swing sounds that Caspervek frequently uses in musicalizing this kind of film are put together with references to Roman music and the tribal sounds of prehistoric times. The film was premiered by a trio of clarinet, piano and percussion. Later, a quartet version was made, adding flute as well.


  • Original title

    Three Ages

  • Director

    Buster Keaton

  • Writer

    Joseph M. Schenck
    Buster Keaton

  • Runtime

    63 min

  • Year


  • Country


  • Company

    Metro Pictures

  • Genre

    Comedy. Historical fiction


Buster Keaton

Margaret Leahy

Wallace Beery

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