Buster Keaton is my favorite silent era movie star. There is something timeless about his comedy, something that has aged so well and gone on to inspire performers of all types from people like Jackie Chan to Cosmo Kramer. Keaton's willingness to completely sacrifice his body for his art is inspiring and terrifying: while filming The General, he broke his back in one scene but managed to finish filming the scene before collapsing and revealing his injuries. Keaton's background was in Vaudeville and he had a fantastic eye for smart and daring gags, often incorporating machines and technology and then combining them with some acute social commentary. Chaplin is the star who is remembered mostly from this era, though while I admire the Little Tramp, I still hold Keaton, his deadpan expression, and his porkpie hat on a mantle above all others. Some of Keaton's masterworks include The General, The Navigator, Sherlock Jr., and Our Hospitality. Keaton's comedy is as hilarious as it is awe-inspiring. The amount of planning, precise timing, and sheer luck involved is staggering. Yet his comedy is surprisingly accessible as it is completely visual and physical. You will be pleasantly surprised!
I'm not usually into fan-made montage videos, but this one gives a really good taste of Keaton's style: