Buster Keaton: Anarchitect
Being, however, unable to see him as anything other than incredibly resourceful when it comes to reading the spatial situation in manners that confound his chasers (and watchers), I’d like to be more charitable with Keaton’s character. His evasions may be “last-minute” rescues, but they could also be understood as his being completely at one with his built environment, which he reads like a chessboard, intricately planning how to game it across time and space.
One of his later homes, however, recalls one we already encountered in this exploration of Keaton’s relationship with architecture. By 1932, divorced and heavily hitting with the bottle, Keaton caught the Depression-era quick-sale of a Pullman bus which had been converted into a motor home with drawing rooms, deck, galley and beds for eight, originally built for the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad. He spent $10,000 on it, then proceeded to drive it around California’s mountains and lakes with a coterie of friends dressed in nautical costumes borrowed from MGM. He spent a while living in it on Harold Lloyd’s driveway before parking it up in MGM’s studios and turning it into a relentless party bus which became a second home to writers and actors.
A great article by Will Jennings