Three Ages

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For other uses of Three Ages, see Three Ages (disambiguation).
Three Ages
Keaton Three Ages 1923.jpg
Theatrical poster for Three Ages (1923)
Directed by Buster Keaton
Edward F. Cline (uncredited)
Produced by Joseph M. Schenck
Buster Keaton
Written by Buster Keaton
Clyde Bruckman (uncredited)
Jean C. Havez (uncredited)
Joseph A. Mitchell (uncredited)
Starring Buster Keaton
Margaret Leahy
Wallace Beery
Lillian Lawrence
Joe Roberts
Cinematography Elgin Lessley
William C. McGann
Distributed by Metro Pictures
Release date(s)
  • September 24, 1923 (1923-09-24)
Running time 63 minutes
Country United States
Language Silent film
English intertitles

Three Ages is a 1923 black-and-white American feature-length silent comedy film starring comedian Buster Keaton and Wallace Beery. The first feature Keaton wrote, directed, produced, and starred in (unlike The Saphead (1920), in which he only acted), Keaton structured the film like three inter-cut short films. The structure also worked as a satire of D. W. Griffith's 1916 film Intolerance. The film was shot in this manner as a kind of insurance for the Studio. While Keaton was a proven success in the short film medium, he had yet to prove himself as a feature-length star. Had the project flopped, the film would have been broken into three short films, each covering one of the 'Ages.'

A caption at the start of the Rohauer Collection (see Raymond Rohauer) print of the film states that when the film's negative was rediscovered in 1954 it was so badly decayed as to be considered unsalvageable. However, subsequent restoration work managed to preserve the film for posterity, although a good deal of damage is still evident.


Three plots in three different historical periods—prehistoric times, ancient Rome, and modern times (the Roaring Twenties)—are intercut to prove the point that men's love for woman have not significantly changed throughout history. In all three plots, characters played by Buster Keaton and Wallace Beery compete for the attention of the same woman, played by Margaret Leahy.


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