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|Buster Keaton 2-DVD Pack|
Actor: Buster Keaton
For Buster Keaton, what began as a childhood vaudeville act flourished into a long but turbulent silent screen career. Today, he is regarded as one of the greatest silent actors who ever lived, and his films are timeless c... more »
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Reviewed on 5/10/2010...
4 feature films
The Great Stone Face in featured classics Steamboat Bill Jr., College, The Misadventures of Buster Keaton and The General.
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Buster Keaton 2 DVD Set includes these titles:
kingcola | Massachusetts | 02/24/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Nowhere could I find what movies were included in this set but I bought it anyway because it was nice and cheap and you can't go wrong with anything by Buster Keaton. So now that it's come in the mail, I can tell the titles included are: The General, The Misadventures of Buster Keaton, Steamboat Bill Jr., and College--all worth their weight in gold so you might as well buy it if you're thinking about it. Mr Keaton was the ultimate entertainer, comic creative mind and performer, from his time up to our day no one comes close to his talents and abilities."
The Great Stone Face, albatross to insurance companies, crac
H. Bala | Carson - hey, we have an IKEA store! - CA USA | 04/26/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Charlie Chaplin and the impassive Buster Keaton, side by side, and apologies to his fans but, for me, Harold Lloyd is not even in this picture. And while the Little Tramp resonates on a more sublime emotional level, it's the Great Stone Face who leaves your jaw dropped to the floor at the the sheer daring and inventiveness of his stunts. Both are geniuses of their form and both marvelous with the sight gags. But when it comes to stunts, there's no trumping Keaton in audacity and thrills and scale. Douglas Fairbanks was the action hero of the silent film era, but Buster Keaton wasn't that far behind. And Keaton made you laugh even as he flabbergasted you.
This 2-DVD set is produced by some never-heard-of company called Echo Bridge Home Entertainment and it's indicated at the start that "The contents of this DVD have been digitally re-mastered from masters that are many decades old." So some allowance must be made for quality of what's onscreen. I'm not a connoisseur of digital remastering so I'll just leave it with that I had no problem with it. But I'm easy to please. Others may wail at the gods over the grainy, sometimes washed-out look of the thing. What's here are THE GENERAL, STEAMBOAT BILL, JR., and COLLEGE, as well as the much lesser feature THE MISADVENTURES OF BUSTER KEATON.
Greatness sometimes requires time to be recognized. THE GENERAL was crapdoodled on when it was first released theatrically. People just didn't know what to do with the genre bending. Was it comedy? Or an action adventure? A historical drama? It took decades before THE GENERAL was recognized as, hands down, Keaton's best and most epic masterpiece, and its central character embodies the scrappy, little guy that could. If you want to glimpse precision and grace and audacity as manifested in one unassuming frame, these were never more on display than in this hilarious Civil War romantic chase thriller. THE GENERAL is the Great Stone Face's best foot forward.
Circa 1861 and there were two loves in Johnnie Gray's life: his locomotive, the General, and the lovely Annabelle. When war breaks out between the Blue and the Gray, Johnnie enlists but is summarily rejected, his engineering skills regarded as too invaluable for the Southern cause (not that Johnnie was told this). A year passes. Disgraced and spurned by his sweetheart, Johnnie at last gets a shot at redemption when Annabelle falls in the hands of Union spies and is spirited away on the hijacked General. Johnnie engages in wild pursuit deep into enemy territory.
Based on the Great Locomotive Chase from 1862, THE GENERAL is a non-stop thrill ride and the comedy spins out of the situations in which Johnnie finds himself. Artistry, great energy, and sheer guts drive this film. The thrills are genuine; the gags are ingenious, one of the most memorable being Keaton perched on the train's cowcatcher and using a railroad tie to dislodge another tie that was on the rail blocking the path. The timing on that stunt must have been ridiculous. And then there's the sensational staging of the bridge collapse near the end, and keep in mind that this set piece was neither CG-rendered or done on a scale model. THE GENERAL is a very funny movie, but of all the gags, the one that makes me laugh most is when, running short on fuel for the engine furnace, Annabelle throws away a log just because it had a hole in it. Keaton's reaction is priceless. And there's too the terrific evocation of time and place. The Civil War period is brought to life convincingly, the costumes and the sets and the look of the people in that era. Simply a great, great movie.
In 1928's marvelous STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. Keaton plays Boston college grad William Canfield, Jr. who after an extended absence visits his father in Muddy Waters. William Canfield, Sr., a.k.a. Steamboat Bill, a no-nonsense giant of a man and owner of the ramshackle steamboat, the Stonewall Jackson, hasn't seen his boy since he was a babe. When he at last sets his eyes on the slight, dandily-dressed young man, he... isn't impressed. But blood is blood and he roughly takes him in.
There's a whiff of Romeo & Juliet in this picture. Canfield Sr. has a bitter feud running with smug rival steamboat owner, J.J. King. What are the odds that Bill Jr. and King's lovely daughter would know each other from college and would spark up a romance? (Odds are good.) Canfield, Sr. forbids his son to see the girl. King forbids his daughter to see Bill Jr. And the mean, mean storm is coming, just the platform needed to showcase Bill Jr.'s derring-do.
STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. succeeds in part on the strength of its underdog story, that of the incompetent son proving himself to his father. Marion Byron is easy on the eyes as the love interest. Plenty of silent slapstick, but this movie is most famous for maybe the most amazing, most dangerous stunt Keaton had ever pulled. The howling storm (we assume it's howling, it's certainly very blustery) causes an entire side of a house to collapse on him as he just stands there, with only Keaton's exquisite placement and an open window to give him that teeny margin for error.
COLLEGE came out in 1927 and is enjoyable but thin in plot development. In this one, a bookish student named Ronald looks down on athletics in favor of academia, and he states as much in his high school valedictorian speech. The fun-loving student body is, of course, outraged. The girl of his dreams, Mary Haines, chastises Ronald for his stuffy words: "Anyone prefers an athlete to a weak kneed, teacher's pet." And off Mary goes to the prestigious Clayton College. The smitten but penniless Ronald follows her and is forced to work his way thru college. But can he, champion nerd of the silent film era, successfully court Mary, who again has become the most popular girl on campus? Especially since his chief rival, star athlete Jeff Brown, is also staking his claim? Ronald may have no recourse but to engage in dreaded athletics. Except that since this nerd is being played by the sinewy and incredibly coordinated Buster Keaton, well, he eventually gets somewhere....
But it can't be made too easy. Ronald proceeds to suck at baseball and to demonstrate his ineptness at track & field. But he finally gets to flex his muscles when he's made coxswain of the rowing team. To prove that sometimes it's a thing of not mind but heart over matter, Ronald learns that his sweetheart is in jeopardy from star athlete Jeff Brown - who it turns out is a mothereffing swain - and as he speeds to her rescue Ronald is suddenly able to master all the sporting skills in which he'd been previously found wanting. COLLEGE is fun, but not one of Keaton's best. There's also a sequence which some folks may find offensive, as Keaton puts on blackface when working as a waiter.
A pox on his talkies which are so markedly inferior to his silent works. In 1950 the British Lion film company fashioned THE MISADVENTURES OF BUSTER KEATON out of material lifted from Keaton's self-cancelled national television series LIFE WITH BUSTER. Keaton, by this time, was getting on in age, but he was still able to resurrect some of his mojo. But, honestly, I've just never gotten used to an audible Buster Keaton. The man, like certain unruly children, should be seen and not heard.
In THE MISADVENTURES OF BUSTER KEATON Keaton calls back a lot of dusty vaudeville routines and, sadly, some of them are plenty tired. In the series Keaton plays a humble entrepreneur, juggling time spent in his sporting goods store and in his little theatre company. Two of the first three skits fall flat for me, the golf bit and the poster pasting bit. But there are some hilarious gags here, and the funniest moments come during the stage plays, especially when Keaton wrecks a Shakespearean act while being chased by a jealous husband and, oh by the way, reenacts his famous stunt from STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. Certainly worth one look, but it's a far cry from his best stuff.
Luckily, this DVD set doesn't boast superiority over other collections. Who would it have been foolin' anyway? I recommend this collection on the strength of the quite manageable asking price. But if you're a straight up avid collector, then you'd do best to get your mitts on The Art of Buster Keaton (The General / Sherlock, Jr. / Our Hospitality / The Navigator / Steamboat Bill Jr. / College / Three Ages / Battling Butler / Go West / The Saphead / Seven Chances / 21 Short Films), although that sucker will certainly set you back in the piggy bank. But it's worth it. That one's got some more of my all-time favorite Buster Keaton flicks: the fabulous SEVEN CHANCES, THE NAVIGATOR, OUR HOSPITALITY, and SHERLOCK, JR."
3 out of 4 ain't bad
Stephen Southerland | Hooksett, NH USA | 05/19/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This set contains 3 of the best silent films ever made: 'The General', 'Steamboat Bill Jr.', and 'College'. Unfortunately, the set contains 'The Misadventures of Buster Keaton'(one of his "talkies") which is, like most of his non-silent comedies, painfully lame. That criticism aside, the set is worth the price for the other 3 gems."