Spite Marriage (1929)

This largely forgettable Buster Keaton vehicle was the second feature he produced for MGM and his final silent film (although produced with a synchronized soundtrack).  Centering on a hapless dry cleaner (Keaton) who weds the girl of his dreams, not realizing their marriage was a sham conducted to vex his spouse’s ex-boyfriend, Spite Marriage is one of Buster’s weakest and limpest efforts.  For the most part, the gags are simply recycled jokes from Keaton’s earlier work: the climax borrows heavily from The Navigator and The Love Nest while the mean-spirited plot unfortunately recalls the vulgar short My Wife’s Relations.  Keaton, who lost most of his creative control during his tenure at MGM, seems more visibly tired and less energetic than he had beforehand.  While a few of the jokes are worthwhile of Buster’s reputation (an extended sequence at a playhouse merits some genuine laughter), Spite Marriage mostly settles for being slightly amusing.

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