The Three Ages (1923)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Three Ages is the first full-length comedy produced by and starring legendary comic Buster Keaton. An obvious parody of D.W. Griffith's Intolerance, Keaton and paramour Margaret Leahy are shown coping with the problems of the Stone Age, life in ancient Rome, and the Modern Age. The rival in all three passages is Wallace Berry. The Stone Age scene finds Buster and his wife constantly being followed by 11 children clad in leopard skins. In Rome, Buster is thrown to the lions before being pardoned by the Emperor (Horace Morgan). During the Modern Age, Keaton and Beery race in jalopies before Buster's car disintegrates into a scrap heap of twisted metal. Blanche Payson plays the giant Amazon in the first segment with big Joe Roberts playing the father of Buster's wife. Lillian Lawrence, Lionel Belmore, and Oliver Hardy also appear in this six-reel comedy classic.
Classics , Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Metro Pictures


Buster Keaton
as The Boy
Margaret Leahy
as The Girl
Wallace Beery
as The Villain
Joe Roberts
as The Girl's Father
Lillian Lawrence
as The Girl's Mother
Horace Morgan
as The Emperor
Lionel Belmore
as Undetermined Role (unconfirmed) (uncredited)
Louise Emmons
as Old Fortune Teller (uncredited)
Kewpie Morgan
as The Emperor / Cave Man / Roman Thug
Blanche Payson
as The Amazon (uncredited)
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Three Ages

All Critics (8)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | February 22, 2012
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Buster Keaton's first feature film was a spoof on D.W. Griffith's 1916 masterpiece Intolerance.

Full Review… | October 18, 2011
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The intertwined chases in all three settings already point to Keaton's knack for comic architecture

Full Review… | September 25, 2009

No excerpt available.

September 21, 2005

No excerpt available.

July 12, 2005

Audience Reviews for The Three Ages

This Keaton's early comedy is fairly amusing but there is not much else into it, with an hour of it seeming almost like an eternity. Nice to see it remastered though, after rediscovered in a very bad condition, even if some damage in the image quality is still quite visible.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


Essentially three shorts interlaced into a brief feature, "The Three Ages" parallels three similar love stories set in the Stone Age, ancient Rome and the present. The players (mainly our hero Buster Keaton, sweetheart Margaret Leahy and bullying rival Wallace Beery) are carried across all three tales and even act under their own names. Unfortunately, we're watching the film to laugh rather than to swoon, and the action is a bit light on memorable gags. It does have a unique chariot race, a funny scene between Keaton and a "lion," a wonderful way to protest a date applying makeup at the table and a brilliant sight gag with a ramshackle car that falls apart on the road. Perhaps best of all is a climactic, dangerous stunt where Keaton tries to leap between two buildings -- apparently, the jump did not go as planned but was used anyway.

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer


Even though this was Buster Keaton's first feature film, it was later revealed to be three two-reel shorts put together in order to create a feature length film. While the pieces all work separately, seeing them together and intertwined within the confines of The Three Ages makes the experience and film richer as a whole. Not quite up there with some of Keaton's masterpieces, The Three Ages is still a fantastic comedy that is just as timeless and relevant in film history as any of his other films. Any Keaton film shows his prowess as an actor and director and showcases his amazing talent and passion in film! Highly Recommended and another great from the silent-film era!

Chris Browning
Chris Browning

Super Reviewer

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