One Week (1920 film)

One Week is a 1920 American two-reel silent comedy film starring Buster Keaton, the first film to be released made by Keaton on his own; Keaton had worked with Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle for a number of years. The film was written and directed by Keaton and Edward F. Cline, and runs for 19 minutes. Sybil Seely co-stars. The High Sign had been filmed prior to One Week, but Keaton considered it an inferior effort to debut with, and released it the following year when he was convalescing from an injury.

One Week
Directed byEdward F. Cline
Buster Keaton
Produced byJoseph M. Schenck
Written byEdward F. Cline
Buster Keaton
StarringBuster Keaton
Sybil Seely
Joe Roberts
CinematographyElgin Lessley
Edited byBuster Keaton
Distributed byMetro Pictures
Release date
  • September 1, 1920 (1920-09-01)[1]
Running time
19 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent film
English intertitles

Guitarist Bill Frisell released a soundtrack to the movie in 1995 on his album The High Sign/One Week.

In 2008, One Week was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[2]


The story involves two newlyweds, Keaton and Seely, who receive a build-it-yourself house as a wedding gift. The house can be built, supposedly, in "one week". A rejected suitor secretly re-numbers packing crates. The movie recounts Keaton's struggle to assemble the house according to this new "arrangement". The end result is depicted in the picture. As if this were not enough, Keaton finds he has built his house on the wrong site and has to move it. The movie reaches its tense climax when the house becomes stuck on railroad tracks. Keaton and Seely try to move it out the way of an oncoming train, which eventually passes on the neighboring track. As the couple look relieved, the house is immediately struck and demolished by another train coming the other way. Keaton stares at the scene, places a 'For Sale' sign with the heap (attaching the building instructions) and walks off with Seely.

The New York Times movie review said, "One Week, a Buster Keaton work, has more fun in it than most slap-stick, trick-property comedies."[3]



  • The film was inspired by a Ford Motor Company documentary, Home Made (1919), an educational short about prefabricated housing. Keaton saw the film and decided to parody it. One Week has many of the devices used in Home Made, including the wedding, the Model T and the use of the pages from a daily calendar to show the house being built in one week.[4]
  • Many special effects, such as the house spinning around during a storm and the train collision, were filmed as they occurred and were not model work.
  • The house was built on a turntable, so it would be able to spin during the violent rainstorm scene.
  • The fall Keaton takes when he steps out of the bathroom and falls two stories down, is one of the few occasions he truly hurt himself making films. The impact of the fall made his arms and back swell, and his physical trainer, Al Gilmore had to put him in hot and cold showers and then apply olive oil and later horse liniment to eventually get the swelling down.[4]
  • The mischievous rival ("Handy Hank") is an unknown actor. Joe Roberts has a brief bit as a strong-man piano mover.
  • Sybil Seely was 18 years old when she made this film. She starred in 18 movies, the last one in 1922. She died in 1984.

See also


  1. Knopf, Robert (1999). The Theater and Cinema of Buster Keaton. Princeton University Press. p. 181. ISBN 978-0-691-00442-6. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
  2. Littleton, Cynthia (December 30, 2008). "'Terminator' joins Film Registry". Variety.
  3. "The Screen", New York Times, p. 22, October 25, 1920
  4. Keaton, Eleanor, and Vance, Jeffrey (2001). Buster Keaton Remembered, H.N. Abrams, p. 69.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.