This review might start to look like a history lesson, and I apologize. However, Keaton forced me to do it, because he went to such lengths to make his films historically accurate. He had the train built and had a lot of track laid (some of the best jokes early in the film deal with the hazards of early train travel, such as moveable track, bumpy rides, and the fact that a trotting dog could easily pace the early trains). The towns his character visits were constructed at great cost to the studio to his exact specifications. All of the costumes were perfect as well. Anyway, back to the story.
On the train, he meets a young woman, with whom he falls instantly in love (this extended beyond the film, as he married leading lady Norma Talmadge). He doesn't realize that she's the daughter of his sworn enemy; of course, he doesn't yet realize that he has a sworn enemy. He stumbles obliviously through the small town where his father died, unknowingly introducing himself to the youngest Canfield boy, who pretends to guide him through town while stopping in every shop to ask if he can borrow a pistol.
The five second summary is this: he is invited to dinner at the Canfield house, where he learns about the feud but also about a trick of Southern hospitality--that the Canfields cannot kill him when he is a guest in their house. The proverbial hijinx ensue.
Keaton is at his dour best here, playing his usual "everyman" who sticks his chin out and resolutely attempts to prevail over life's circumstances. The "trajectories," Keaton's own word for the elaborate stunts he performs, are pretty good too, especially an extended sequence where he is caught in a flooded river and has to brave rapids and a waterfall. Apparently, the seemingly death-defying stunt at the waterfall almost killed him. Keaton is quickly turning into my favorite silent film director and star, and one of my favorites overall.
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