~Three Ages~
1923
~Plot Synopsis~
Thirty years after its release, Buster Keaton admitted that his first feature film was essentially three
two-reel comedies strung together. Perhaps this was a way for the comic filmmaker to play it safe; he had
achieved success for his short films and if Three Ages wasn't going very well, its trio of storylines could
have been chopped up into separate films. The picture was a send-up of D.W. Griffith's 1916 masterpiece
Intolerance. But instead of following greed and hatred through the ages, Keaton focused on love. His
settings were the Stone Age, the Roman era and 1920s America, with Margaret Leahy as the girl and
Wallace Beery as the villain in each segment. The stories are intercut, but they're basically the same: the
villain uses either brutish or dishonest means to get the girl and Buster must somehow overcome him.
Although they're the most crude-looking, the Stone Age scenes often offer the funniest moments: Buster
flirts with a cavewoman who turns out to be twice his size; when a foe throws a rock at him, Buster hits
the rock with a club, baseball-style, and squarely knocks out his opponent. The modern era offers the
most thrilling scene -- Buster tries to jump between two tall buildings, but misses and falls. The fall was
unintended, but instead of retaking the shot, he used it to create a series of events that led his character to
the back of a moving fire truck. While this picture ultimately didn't rate among Keaton's most classic
work, it was a solid success when it first came out. Keaton did exactly what he'd set out to do, which was
establish himself as a feature filmmaker. But it hadn't been all smooth going -- Margaret Leahy was pretty
but had no talent for acting whatsoever. The girl was an English beauty-contest winner, and the prize was
supposed to be a role in a Norma Talmadge film. She was so bad that Talmadge's director threatened to
quit. So the star's producer/husband, Joseph Schenck (who was also Keaton's producer) put her in Three
Ages instead. Keaton couldn't really complain -- because of his marriage to Natalie Talmadge, he was
Norma's brother-in-law. So he made the best of it, although he later complained that Leahy caused him to
throw away many scenes. Leahy eventually left the movie business and found a happier career working
as an interior designer.

Plot Synopsis by Janiss Garza, AllMovie.com
Directed by:
Buster Keaton    
Edward F. Cline - uncredited

Written by:
Clyde Bruckman - uncredited
Jean C. Havez - uncredited
Buster Keaton - writer
Joseph A. Mitchell - uncredited
~Cast~

Buster Keaton ... The Boy
Margaret Leahy ... The Girl
Wallace Beery ... The Villain
Joe Roberts ... The Girl's Father
Lillian Lawrence ... The Girl's Mother
Kewpie Morgan ... The Emperor / Cave Man / Roman Thug (as Horace Morgan)
Lionel Belmore ... Undetermined Role (uncredited) (unconfirmed)
George Davis ... Roman Guard Knocked Down (uncredited)
Louise Emmons ... Old Fortune Teller (uncredited)
Blanche Payson ... The Amazon (uncredited)
~Remaining Credits~

Production Company: Buster Keaton Productions

Distribution Company: Metro Pictures Corporation

Produced by: Buster Keaton & Joseph M. Schenck
Cinematography by: Elgin Lessley & William C. McGann
Art Direction by: Fred Gabourie
Assistant Director: Robert Ives
Presenter: Joseph M. Schenck

Length: 6 Reels
Runtime: 63 Minutes
Released: September 24, 1923

Filmed on Location in:
Hill Street, Los Angeles, California, USA
Iverson Ranch - 1 Iverson Lane, Chatsworth, Los Angeles, California, USA
Los Angeles, California, USA
.