Actually the best Fun-Stupid movie of 1928-29 is Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill, Jr. But since this classic comedy has already won a couple of Katies (for actor and supporting actor) and I've written two compelling essays about it, you've by now no doubt already tracked down a copy and watched it—a couple of times if you're anything like me.
Okay, so nobody's anything like me.
Anyway, there's another Keaton comedy from 1928 you don't want to miss. The Camera- man is the story of a tintype operator who aspires to become a newsreel photographer for the same reason a Buster Keaton character usually aspires to do anything, to impress a woman, in this case, Marceline Day. There are great scenes involving a gang war in Chinatown, an oversize pair of swim trunks at a public pool and an organ grinder's monkey that not only saves the day but proves to be a better filmmaker than Keaton.
The Cameraman doesn't include the death-defying physical stunts that marked most of Keaton's comedies, and for that reason alone I'd say if you've never seen a Buster Keaton movie, don't start with this one, but it is chock full of great gags and also works quite well as a commentary on the experimental cinema of the era. Not to mention Keaton plays perhaps the most appealing character of his career.
On the other hand, if Buster Keaton isn't your porkpie hat full of tea, I suggest you check out the Douglas Fairbanks swashbuckler The Iron Mask. Based on a pair of novels by Alexandre Dumas père, Twenty Years After and The Man in the Iron Mask, it's a sequel to Fairbanks's 1921 hit The Three Musketeers and features the return of D'Artagnan and his three compadres, Athos, Porthos and Aramis.
Fairbanks nabbed a well-deserved Katie nomination for his performance as the larger-than-life D'Artagnan, and as you would expect when the name Douglas Fairbanks appears above the title, the movie features plenty of action and swordplay. But it's also a great buddy movie and surprisingly touching. This was Fairbanks's last silent movie: I think he knew that his days as an action star were numbered and he wanted to go out on a high note. That he does.
Both movies (plus Steamboat Bill, Jr.) are available on DVD.