MoMA Presents

Buster Keaton’s Our Hospitality

Jul 15–23, 2021

MoMA

Our Hospitality. 1923. USA. Directed by John G. Blystone, Buster Keaton. Courtesy Metro Pictures Corporation/Photofest
  • MoMA, Floor T2/T1, Theater 1 The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 1
  • MoMA, Floor 1, Sculpture Garden The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden

Proof of vaccination is required for on-site film screenings (except those in the Sculpture Garden). Theater seats will be assigned upon arrival at the Museum. Learn more about visiting us safely.

Released in 1923, Our Hospitality was Buster Keaton’s second feature-length film, but the first (after the episodically constructed Three Ages) to fully develop the possibilities of an extended narrative. Where his two-reel shorts could string together improbable and often physically impossible gags into a surreal, stream-of-unconsciousness structure, the extended running time of a five- or six-reel feature meant that gags had to be grounded in character and situation in order to sustain the audience’s interest and belief.

The situation that Keaton and his gagmen (Jean C. Havez, Clyde Bruckman, and Joseph A. Mitchell) settled on was the well-worn legend of the Hatfield-McCoy feud, a family rivalry fueled by the Civil War. Keaton moves the conflict back to the 1830s, placing his conflict in a nascent United States just being bound together by the primitive railroad that Keaton mines so memorably for comedy.

Traveling south by train from rural New York City, Keaton’s Willie McKay falls under the spell of a fellow passenger, Virginia Canfield (Natalie Talmadge, Keaton’s then-wife), only to find when he reaches his southern homestead that his new friend’s relations are gunning for him. Beginning in a casual, observational mode, the film, under the direction of Keaton and John G. Blystone, gradually accumulates mass and velocity as it builds to a spectacular climax.

This is the New York premiere of a new restoration from Lobster Films, based in part on an original print in MoMA’s collection. Special thanks to Serge Bromberg and the Lobster team.

Organized by Dave Kehr, Curator, Department of Film.

  • This film series is part of MoMA Presents.
  • Film at MoMA is made possible by CHANEL.

    Additional support is provided by the Annual Film Fund. Leadership support for the Annual Film Fund is provided by Debra and Leon D. Black and by Steven Tisch, with major contributions from The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art, the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, Karen and Gary Winnick, and The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston.

    Licensing

    If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

    MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit https://www.moma.org/research-and-learning/circulating-film.

    If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].

    Feedback

    This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].