No one watches old movies anymore. With all apologies to any film scholars out there, we don’t know anyone who sits down to watch a silent film, or even a pre-war talkie these days. We don’t remember these movies anymore. But in some cases we do remember their stars. Even if you’ve never seen The General or Our Hospitality or Sherlock, Jr., chances are you know what Buster Keaton looks like. With his stone faced stare and polished attire, Keaton was one of the original straight men, playing up the madcap comedy of early cinema through his signature stoicism.
While many film historians herald Keaton as one of the finest actor-directors of all time, people of a younger generation are more apt to know Keaton for his look alone. In addition to his patented somber expression, Keaton is also known for being an immensely stylish presence on and off screen. Some eighty-plus years later, Keaton’s style appears far less archaic than many of his films. His outfits were straightforward, with just the right amount of eccentricity tossed in there for effect. His suits were peak lapeled, his sportcoats casual and coarse, and he often favored long-sleeve polos rather than standard dress-shirts. Keaton wasn’t just a character, he had character, and so his memory plays on, well after his life reached its final frame.