Grand Slam Opera

Length: Two reels
Release date: February 21, 1936
An Educational Pictures Production
Presented by: E.W. Hammons
Distributed by: 20th Century-Fox
Producer: E.H. Allen
Director: Charles Lamont
Story: Buster Keaton and Charles Lamont
Photography: Gus Peterson

Buster Keaton: Elmer
Diana Lewis: Tap Dancer
Harold Goodwin: Orchestra Conductor
With: John Ince, Melrose Coakley, and Bud Jamison

Arizona boy Elmer Butts leaves his country hometown of Gopher City for the big city. He tries to show off his talents on a radio amateur hour. Unfortunately, they close for the night just before he can go on. On the way back to his apartment, he bumps into a girl and, though she accuses him of stalking her, he tries asking her out. She walks away. Back at his apartment, Elmer tries doing various tricks – balancing, singing, and even dancing like Fred Astaire – but he’s discouraged when none of it works. Moreover, the girl from before is trying to sleep below him. After putting up with his noise for too long, she tells him to knock it off, only for him to ask her out again.

The next day, Elmer goes back to the radio station to show off his greatest talent – juggling. His idea of getting around the obvious problem with this is to explain his tricks while he’s doing it. He does one trick with a whiskey bottle successfully, and the gong is rung. He’s done. He does his next trick with a broom anyway, but it backfires and he knocks over the conductor. They eventually wind up whacking each other with broom and baton to the tune of “Anvil Chorus”. He goes home, disappointed, only to realize that he won first prize. He races back, knocks over the orchestra, and collects his prize. And the girl from before finally agrees to go out with him. — Nick Ciccone