The Writer's BLOCK Blog

Ode To Smithy - The Blacksmith Classic Silent Film Starring Buster Keaton (1922)

The Blacksmith is a 1922 classic, short comedy, two reel spoof inspired by Longfellow's poem "The Village Blacksmith". This film is directed by and featuring great silent comedian Buster Keaton and will leave you rolling on the floor laughing. In this comedic black and white film Buster Keaton is an assistant to a village blacksmith (Joe Roberts), a big, mean-tempered sort. But when the blacksmith is arrested, Keaton's in charge. Customers come in with various problems with their horses or cars, and the solution Keaton invents for them (and the mayhem wrought upon them) is devilishly clever, not to mention laugh-out-loud funny.

In the early '20s, it was common for a blacksmith to double as a car mechanic, and Keaton is equally inept at both tasks. This short is essentially a string of wonderful gags -- Keaton helps Virginia Fox's horse pick out just the right shoe, and he methodically and hilariously destroys a gleaming, extravagant new Rolls Royce. Quite the shocking slapstick considering it was during a time where many couldn't afford to a buy a Model-T. By the end of the film, everyone is out to throttle Keaton for his countless blunders, but somehow he still manages to get the girl!


The Village Blacksmith by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Under a spreading chestnut-tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands. 

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate'er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man. 

Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low. 

And children coming home from school
Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
And bear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing-floor. 

He goes on Sunday to the church,
And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,
He hears his daughter's voice,
Singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice. 

It sounds to him like her mother's voice,
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
A tear out of his eyes. 

Toiling,--rejoicing,--sorrowing,
Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night's repose. 

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought.

Leave a comment