The Saphead (1920)

The Saphead (1920)

The Saphead





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

In his first outing as the rich playboy, Buster Keaton's genius already shines through in this story of the slow-on-the-uptake son of a financial genius. Based on a Winchell Smith and Victor Maples play entitled The New Henrietta, this silent film is vintage early Keaton.

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Classics, Comedy
Directed By: , ,
Written By: George Bronson Howard, Victor Mapes, June Mathis
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 11, 2000
Metro Pictures

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as Bernie "The Lamb" Va...

as Nicholas Van Alstyne

as Mark Turner

as Rose Turner

as Agnes Gates

as Dr. George Wainwrigh...

as Watson Flint

as Rev. Murray Hilton

as Dr. George Wainwrigh...

as Mrs. Comelia Opdyke

as Mrs. Cornelia Opdyke

as Henrietta Reynolds
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Critic Reviews for The Saphead

All Critics (4) | Top Critics (2)

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

The Saphead is more historically important than it is aesthetically or artistically important.

Full Review… | July 23, 2012
Combustible Celluloid

Slightly amusing.

Full Review… | October 26, 2011
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for The Saphead


This is probably one of Keaton's worst movies.

Aj V

Super Reviewer


"The Saphead" isn't a bad film, but it will frustrate Buster Keaton fans. Despite its farcical title, it barely even qualifies as a comedy.

Ineffectual Bertie (Keaton, starring in his first feature) is a stock character -- the rich, pampered dandy who is pushed into the real world and must prove his mettle. And, of course, he's shy to tell a sweetheart that he loves her. Really, this seems like more of a Harold Lloyd vehicle. The other plot thread involves Mark (Irving Cummings), a struggling employee of Bertie's tycoon father who conspires to steal the family fortune via stock-market shenanigans. Much of the story hangs on a contrived coincidence that a valuable mine and Mark's mistress happen to share the same name (Henrietta). The script's complexity (particularly its financial element) tests the limits of silent film -- "The Saphead" is adapted from a play, and would have worked better as a talkie.

Keaton had acted in numerous shorts by this time (often playing second fiddle to Fatty Arbuckle), but hadn't quite found his niche yet. He actually smiles in one scene (gasp) and has little chance for physical comedy until a climatic sequence on the stock-exchange floor. Any Keaton silent demands to be seen, but don't raise your expectations too high about this one.

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

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