“Don’t be discouraged. No one would ever amount to anything if he didn’t try.”
In The Cameraman from 1928, Buster Keaton plays the typical down and out guy with something to prove in order to get the girl.
Buster carries around a portable tintype camera and takes photos of people who willingly stand for them. As he tries to take a man’s photo one day a large crowd of people clamor around him and ticker tape begins to fall and soon the corner he was in becomes packed with people and news cameras. The event is for someone important that is not specified. Buster gets pushed into a beautiful woman. When the group dissipates Buster asks the girl if he can take her photo. In the few seconds it takes to develop her photo she has taken off with one of the news reel cameramen.
The following day he takes the photograph and heads to MGM Newsreels’ offices to look for the girl. He finds out her name is Sally and that she is a secretary in the office. In order to impress her Buster goes out and spends his entire savings on a new camera so he can try to catch some news stories on film. She encourages him to film whatever he sees so he can get the hang of it. Unfortunately his reel comes out terrible. Many of the shots have been over or double exposed and other shots are just no good.
Buster had asked Sally out on a date. She told him she already has a date but if they cancel she will call him. All day Buster waits for her call and when she finally does he is beyond happy. They go out for a day to an indoor pool which does not turn out too well. After they pool Sally sees the one newsreel guy Harold who has been making fun of Buster ever since he started and also likes her. He gives them a ride but makes Buster sit in the rumble seat in the pouring rain.
Sally gets a call from someone in Chinatown that there could be something interesting going on during the parade that day and that she should send someone down to film it. Thinking of Buster she sends him down. On his way Buster accidentally hits a small monkey that was part of a street performer’s act. Thinking the monkey has died he pays for it and takes the body with him. Turns out the monkey was just stunned. Buster gets down to Chinatown just in time because a big gang war erupts. He captures the whole thing and is saved by the police just in time. When he gets back to the office Buster is sad to see that there was no film in there the entire time.
Trying again later, Buster heads down to the beach to try to capture some boat racing. When he is on a boat he realized the monkey switched out his film of the gang war he did manage to capture the entire thing. On the beach he is filming a speed boat that is being driven by Harold with Sally as his passenger. Harold drives the boat way to fast into a turn and they fly out of the boat. Buster immediately stops filming and jumps into the water to save them. After he gets Sally onto the beach he runs to the nearest drug store to get things to help her. Harold comes out of the water and Sally comes to. She thinks Harold was the one who saved her and he takes the credit for it. Thankfully Buster has kept the monkey around because the monkey kept on filming and got the whole rescue on film.
Buster sends the Chinatown shoot out to MGM Newsreels and tells them he is giving it to them for free. He also gives the speed boat incident to them as well. Sally sees that Buster is really the one who saved her and the boss loves both reels. Sally gets Buster to come back to the company.
The Cameraman was cute. As usual it is the typical Buster Keaton style of story. There were some scenes I felt were too long and did not really need to be included but it is a comedy and all the scenes were drawn out comedic ones. I will suggest only seeing The Cameraman if you are a Buster Keaton fan. I do not consider The Cameraman one of the best silent films I have seen but unless you really like Keaton it is not really worth watching.