In your review of Prince of Persia you wrote:Dastan moves like the Jackie Chan of ancient Persia, leaping, climbing and swinging around like, well, a video-game avatar. Today this is called parkour, but once upon a time, it was just what Jackie Chan did.
Well … before that, it was what Buster Keaton did. :)
I am all over Keaton as a forerunner of Jackie Chan, but I don’t really think of Keaton’s physicality as proto-parkour. In that regard I would point to Douglas Fairbanks Sr. first.
P.S. I got your follow-up about the short “Neighbors,” unseen by me. I don’t deny that Keaton has moves in some films that are parkour-like. It’s also true that Keaton’s underdog persona in many films is closer to the typically unassuming Jackie Chan character, which goes to why Jackie looks to Keaton as a primary inspiration. Of course, Keaton did a lot of things, all very well. Fairbanks’ skills set, like Jackie’s, was more specialized. I think that a parkour fan looking to the silent era would find more to connect with in Fairbanks.