By on February 17, 2011

Buster Keaton reached the height of his fame in about 1927, but Ford’s 1966 marketers must have figured that nostalgia for the allegedly wholesome silent-film era would be big, what with all the not-so-wholesome madness heating up in the United States at that time. How about we put Buster Keaton in the Econoline?

Keaton died of lung cancer later in 1966, so this may well have been his final acting role. The flat-nose Econoline had but one more year to go, so perhaps the choice of actors was a fitting one.

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12 Comments on “Adventures In Marketing: Ancient Buster Keaton Forces Lion Into Flat-Nose Econoline...”

  • avatar

    Old Man born in 1925.
    Told of how the tiny hamlet in northwestern rural Missouri predominantly used horse and buggies/wagons with flivvers rather rare but attracted quite a commotion when they appeared.
    Saturday nights the tiny town’s businesses set up wood benches in the main drag, erected a temporary screen and projected silent movies for the masses to view.
    Intention to sell viewers goodies but no requirement to buy.
    The kids went bonkers.
    Depression annihilated the populace.
    Many folks/families lost farms.
    Many forced to dig small caves into river bluffs and eke out a living.
    Try to do that nowadays and expect a quick arrest.
    I fear those days are returning with far fewer options nowadays for the dispossessed.

    • 0 avatar


      I fear that nowadays, the local government would tax those poor bastards that carved caves onto the sides of riverbanks….. but overall, I share your jaundiced view of the immediate future.  

  • avatar

    “The General” it ain’t.
    Buster had a late-career renaissance in the 60s in beach movies and the like (I am not making this up). Also lots of old movies (including his) were being shown on TV at the time which might explain why they used him for this.

  • avatar

    I am a lover of the old silent comedies and Buster Keaton in particular, so I enjoyed the commercial for what it is.
    When you think about it, Buster’s heyday would have been about 40 years before this commercial was made.  Look at all the nostalgia for the early 70s today.  It is not hard to imagine a modern commercial playing off of an early 70s theme today, and this commercial just did the same thing but in the 60s.
    Friedclams is right about Buster’s later years.  I recall that Buster had a small part in Its A Mad Mad Mad Mad World in 1963.  He was still funny in that movie, and was funny in this commercial as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Schwartz

      “Its A Mad Mad Mad Mad World”
      Still one of the funniest movies ever made.

    • 0 avatar

      The 60s and 70s nostalgia for silent films saved alot of movies from destruction.  The old films were unstable and would disintegrate in the can.  Transferring these films to more stable film stock (and now in digital format) preserved them to this day.  If only the older films were shown at original speed.  Silent film was shot at (approximately with hand crank) 16 frames per second whereas sound film is run at 24 frames per second (unless IMAX).  When later shown on TV, many silent films were run 50% faster than intended.  I prefer to see the silents run at original speed, when possible, but it does make for a flickering picture.  That’s why, as a kid, I had a hard time keeping up with the dialogue cards when TBS showed Harold Lloyd or early silent Laurel & Hardy in fast motion.  Only the later silent films with synchronized sound track of music and sound effects (still not “talkies”) were run at 24 frames per second.  Buster Keaton’s comedies were surreal.  I like The General from 1927, in particular because I am a civil war and train buff.

    • 0 avatar

      Everybody, it seems, had a small part in IAMMMMW.  Great movie.

  • avatar

    Let’s not forget what I think may have been his final role in “A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum”.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Mickey  Rooney and  Buddy  Hacket flying the twin  Beechcraft  through  the  Coca  Cola  sign!!!!!!   Milton Berle  and  Terry Thomas fighting   in  the desert.  IAMMMMW Is the  classic comedy

  • avatar
    John Fritz

    I think that’s the funniest forty-some year old car commercial I’ve ever seen.

  • avatar

    On account of it’s feline cargo, wouldn’t it be more appropriately called an “Econolion”?

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