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Ditto 1937
Description: Buster, an ice delivery man, falls for one of his customers, not knowing she has a twin sister living next door.
Released: 12 Feb 1937 Director: Charles Lamont Writers: Paul Girard Smith (story) Actors: Buster Keaton, Gloria Brewster, Barbara Brewster, Harold Goodwin Genres: Comedy, Short
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Ditto Reviews:

Buster sees double One of Buster Keaton's best films, 'The Playhouse' (1921), featured an whole theatre filled with multiple Buster Keatons (via trick photography). The same movie had a subplot in which Buster meets identical twin girls, one of whom is attracted to him and one of whom rejects him. In 1937, at cute much the lowest mission of his career, while working for Al Christie at Educational Studios, Buster revived the 'twins' concept for 'Ditto' ... an extremely terrible movie which would have been much funnier if only Buster had been able to test the expensive trick photography which made 'The Playhouse' so hilarious. 'Ditto' may have inspired a routine in the Abbott & Costello film "Keep 'em Flying", in which Bud and Lou meet twin waitresses ... one of whom likes Bud and hates Lou while the another one likes Lou and hates Bud. Abbott & Costello got a lot more laughs out of this premise than Keaton did. 'Ditto' begins out promisingly, with Buster cast as an iceman. In the 1930s, before refrigerators were commonplace, icemen were the source of many raunchy jokes. The neighbourhood iceman was a large brawny guy who made deliveries to housewives in their kitchens while the housewives' husbands were away at work. There was a general assumption that the iceman got plenty of action (nudge, wink). The sight of scrawny un-handsome Buster Keaton slinging a block of ice over his shoulder was worth an automatic laugh in 1937. Buster the iceman makes a delivery to an pretty housewife (Gloria Brewster) and they instantly hit it off. Unbeknownst to Buster, the girl who lives next-door over is Gloria's identical twin sister Barbara. When Barbara meets Buster, she hates him on sight. Buster only sees one twin at a time, so he thinks they're the same girl ... and he can't understand why "she" sometimes welcomes his advances and then becomes hostile a several moments later. Finally, Buster can't take the strain any longer. He runs off into the woods and becomes a hermit.SPOILER COMING. The end of the film is a letdown. After years in the wilderness, Buster meets a young farmgirl who is attracted to him. She invites him home to meet her six sisters. The seven women are identical septuplets! This would have been an extremely funny gag if only Buster should have shot the payoff in multiple exposure, as he did in 'The Playhouse' ... showing one woman seven times in the same camera set-up. Unfortunately, the extremely weak budget for 'Ditto' requires the payoff gag to present the septuplets from the rear! We see seven girls standing with their backs to the camera, wearing identical costumes and related hairstyles, and we have to pause for a moment and **figure out** that they would all look the same if only we should see them from the front. This isn't funny, and Buster's double take (or septuple take) doesn't support matters.Interestingly, only one year before 'Ditto', the up-and-coming young movie comedian Bob Hope made a very funny movie named 'Shop Talk' that ends in a multiple-exposure shot in which Bob Hope confronts three identical versions of a double-talking actor, shot in treble exposure. This final gag is very funny. 'Ditto' should have been very funny too, if only Buster should have resorted to trick photography.


This has got to be one of the weirdest films made by a traditional filmmaker. The first third is quite funny. The middle third, where Buster is confused by the two girls, is too embarrassing for me to enjoy. BUT THEN, the last third is amazing. Keaton gotta have written this. I cannot imagine anyone else coming up with anything so surreal, so entertainingly bizarre. You really have got to see it to trust it. And yes, it certainly does whet the imagination to wonder what Keaton might have done with the final shot if Educational had given him the cash to do whatever he wanted. It would have to have been something well beyond what I would cook up, since nothing I can think of would work as well as the method they shot it. We REALLY need these Keaton films restored.


While this is not as funny as some of Keaton's Educational shorts (gets a bit awkward in the middle), it does have some nice moments. Mainly though, I see the whole first 16 mins (of a 17-minute running time) as the build-up to a large punch-line at the end. But you gotta know a tiny about the Dionne quintets born in 1934 to receive the joke!



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