The meeting of minds between Buster Keaton and Samuel Beckett might have been one of the greatest in performing-arts history if their minds had actually met. In July 1964, the silent-comedy legend arrived in New York City to spend three weeks shooting an avant-garde short from a script by the lionized Irish playwright. Beckett was strongly influenced by the great clowns—Vladimir and Estragon, the eternally patient protagonists of Waiting for Godot, are nothing but a pair of baggy-pants comedians—and while the play was first being staged in Paris, Beckett got to see Keaton perform at the Cirque Medrano. Both men pondered the inescapable joke of existence, one trading in the low art of slapstick, the other in the high art of avant-garde poetry. But Keaton was only a hired hand on Film, which is better remembered now for the oddness of the men’s pairing than for its artistic merit. Continue reading >>