Orson Welles may have preferred The General, but this tale of how to get ahead in photojournalism while impressing your lady friend is an equal candidate for Buster Keaton’s best work. Keaton’s tintype portrait photographer attempts to woo an MGM secretary by switching to the more dangerous career of a newsreel cameraman. Gang wars, double crossing, and rival suitors ensue, and while Keaton pratfalls his way to success, the vicious portrayal of the silent-era studio system might have been a foreboding sign. A little more than a year after the release of The Cameraman, MGM stripped Keaton of his creative control, leading to a muted career as film entered the sound era.

THE CAMERAMAN SHOWS AT 6:30 P.M. ON WEDNESDAY, OCT. 20, IN THE KOGOD COURTYARD OF THE SMITHSONIAN AMERICAN ART MUSEUM AND THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY, 750 9TH ST. NW. FREE. (202) 633-7970.