One of Buster Keaton’s greatest films. And make no mistake: he was the greatest comedian in the previous century. Period.
“Hard Luck” was written and directed in 1921 by Keaton and Edward F. Cline. The runtime is 22 minutes. For sixty years it was Keaton’s only major lost film until it was partially reconstructed in 1987, with the critical final scene (which Keaton called the greatest laugh-getting scene of his career) still missing. This scene was later discovered in a Russian archive print, and now the full film is available.
Buster plays a down on his luck young man who decides to commit suicide after losing his job and his girl. After several inept attempts to end his life – and bolstered by whiskey disguised as poison – he joins an expedition to capture an armadillo. Buster finds himself becoming more confident through a series of adventures (such as fishing and fox hunting) as the film proceeds. The confidence becomes his undoing as he misses the pool in a dive from a high board and hits the ground on the far side with such force that he disappears into a hole. Some years later, an Asian-garbed Buster climbs out of the hole in the now dry and deserted pool followed by a Chinese wife and two young children.
( A big thank you to barcarole on tumblr for putting the Keaton excerpts together.)