There's no doubt OUR HOSPITALITY is one of Buster Keaton's best looking films. With documentary-like accuracy, 42nd Street and Broadway circa the early 1800s, the first bicycle and one of the first steam engine trains (Stephenson's Rocket) are all recreated with loving care. Such care would rear its head again in Keaton films, especially THE GENERAL.
But OUR HOSPITALITY is also one of Keaton's least-amusing features. With emphasis on the story and the setting, the actual laughs are few and far between. The film works as a mildly funny costume drama based on the famous Hatfield and McCoy family feud. But OUR HOSPITALITY never has a long enough stretch of gags to sustain itself as a comedy, and, when the gags are absent, the story is simply not that compelling. The most memorable bits are Buster's ride on Stephenson's Rocket, a lengthy sequence that presumably shows us what an actual ride on one of the earliest passenger trains was like, and a wild climax among on water rapids, including a waterfall stunt that ranks among Keaton's most spectacular.
OUR HOSPITALITY is a good film, in some ways a great one. It may be the most impressive of the early feature length comedies of the time. But as far as costume and period piece comedies go, Keaton's THE GENERAL and STEAMBOAT BILL JR are far funnier films, not to mention Lloyd's GRANDMA'S BOY and Chaplin's THE GOLD RUSH. ½ - JB