Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Buster Keaton - 65th Anniversary Collection General Nuisance / His Ex Marks the Spot / Mooching Through Georgia / Nothing but Pleasure / Pardon My Berth Marks / Pest From the West / So You Won't Squawk / The Spook Speaks / The Taming of the Snood / She's|
Actors: Buster Keaton, Monte Collins, Bud Jamison, Harley Wood, Lynton Brent
Directors: Del Lord, Jules White
Genres: Comedy, Drama
Ten comedic shorts from the Great Stone Face himself, Buster Keaton, arrive on DVD for the first time ever in this must-own special two-disc set. The honorary Academy Award®-winner shines in rare films from Hollywood's gol... more »
Similarly Requested DVDs
Buster Keaton's rarely seen work for Columbia Pictures!
Paul J. Mular | San Carlos, CA USA | 01/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Finally somebody recognizes this brilliant comedian's work at Columbia Pictures!
After producing some mildly amusing comedy shorts at Educational Pictures, Buster got his chance to work again for a major studio. Columbia was the haven for comedians in the late 1930's & 1940's, they were #1 in producing comedy shorts at this time! Sure, these don't compete with Buster's classic, self produced, silent comedies of the 1920's. But these are not to be missed by fans. This has been a somewhat lost part of Buster's cinema history. HOOORAY!!!
Here are the 10 Buster Keaton Columbia Pictures comedy shorts that Sony owns:
Pest from the West
Mooching Through Georgia
Nothing But Pleasure
Pardon My Birthmarks
The Taming of the Snood
The Spook Speaks
His Ex Marks the Spot
So You Won't Squawk
She's Oil Mine
After these enjoyable 17 minute comedies were made, Buster was reduced to being just an extra, the comedy relief, in feature films.
I am glad to see that Sony has finally recognized that the 3 Stooges aren't the only comedy short classics they own."
Hard to Get Keaton Sound Shorts Well Presented
Christopher J. Jarmick | Seattle, Wa. USA | 04/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A treat for Keaton Fans. Not his best work, but some very entertaining moments can be found in these shorts.
Keaton made some of the funniest, most inventive, and witty silent shorts and features of all time. He didn't just come up with a smart sight gag, he played with audience expectations and often found an extra twist. Along the way he experimented with camera tricks, techniques and much more. He wasn't merely a clown, but an artist. Many already know this.
In the late 1920's and early 1930s, Keaton was under contract to MGM. They took away a lot of his creative control and forced him to star in stage adaptations and team up with Jimmy Durante in a couple of movies. Keaton was having some personal problems as well, and his drinking was out of control. The movies weren't funny, weren't popular and he was more and more difficult to work with. His career was at a low point by the mid 1930s. He was let go from MGM.
By the late 1930s he had stopped drinking and his personal life was much happier. Columbia convinced him to do a series of sound shorts under the direction of people like Del Lord and Jules White. The shorts were made between 1939 to 1941 at Columbia Pictures utilizing the same crews and directors as Columbia's 3 Stooges shorts. Keaton fans will find a still very agile 45 year acrobatic Keaton able to create magic moments. The budgets were small and the shooting schedule was usually confined to 3 days. Some of the shorts were not written with Keaton in mind, but there are moments in every single offering where Keaton's skill and experience shine.
Ten shorts have been collected on the two discs (they are not arranged chronologically here-who knows why) among the gems are Pest from the West (a solid abridged remake of the mostly awful feature film he did in the U.K. called: "The Invader " aka "An Old Spanish Custom). He re-stages part of his old vaudeville act in the short "Taming of the Snood". There's a very funny Keaton classic routine (with a slight twist) in "Nothing but Pleasure". A wonderful little bit of dance choreography makes "General Nuisance" enjoyable, "So You Won't Squawk" has several fun sequences and good use of a stock chase scene, and the best of the shorts is the last one he did for Columbia called "She's Oil Mine" which finishes off with one of the best versions he's ever done of his famous `duel scene'.
These were cheap quickly made comedies cranked out by Columbia's short division. The schedule frustrated Keaton who felt with a few more shooting days on each short he could have improved them. They wanted him to make more, but he decided to not re-new his contract. He successfully stopped drinking, found a life partner, and led a modest life behind the scenes (writing gags for other stars-particularly Red Skeleton) for nearly a decade. Then by the 1950s he had been re-discovered and made many appearances on television, did numerous live shows and eventually made industrial films, appeared in small roles in several movies, and was moved by how many people re-discovered and enjoyed his old silent films.
The DVD's include commentaries by a few film scholars and genuine fan club folks that run on each of the shorts. They give you some interesting perspective and some fun trivia notes if you care to listen to them. For the DVD collection a new mini-documentary was created that gives a retrospective of Keaton's transition from silent movies to MGM talkies to the making of these Columbia shorts. The documentary takes the honest view that these films were not nearly as good as the silent shorts and while entertaining, Keaton was not proud of his work on these with the exception of "Pest from the West' and `She's Oil Mine'.
Don't expect the best of Keaton here, but if you are a fan, there's a lot here to enjoy. Good value for the money provided you know what to expect.
AT LAST - in 35MM Splendor!
The Keeper Of The Celluloid | Film Archive, USA | 02/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After years of trying and pleading with his superiors, SONY V.P. of repertory Michael Schlessinger has finally persuaded the powers that be to release on DVD, the TEN Keaton shorts the Great Stone Face made at Columbia Pictures. With careful attention to detail, the chief restorationist, Grover Crisp has made the negs as clean as possible and have transferred these long neglected treasures to a quality they never knew in original release.
Who cares is some of the material is not up to Buster's best work. There are moments of brilliance in these comedies that rival anything Keaton did in the sound era. His "The Pest From The West" is his Columbia masterpiece and worth the price of this DVD set alone. There are also some wonderful comedies here that never get to see the light of day anymore. "The Spook Speaks" is a riot as Buster and Elsie Ames are caretakers in a house that is supposed to be haunted complete with moving furniture and a penguin that enjoys a good stiff drink now and then. "She's Oil Mine", has Buster in a duel for the girl he loves. Several of these films contain some reworking of Keaton's earlier silent films and they are fun and interesting to see. There is commentary from Keaton experts / fans and even a note from Keaton's granddaughter.
Kudos to SONY for making the complete set available and to Mr. Schlessinger for spearheading the campaign to get them released. Now if this set sells well, perhaps Columbia can be persuaded into releasing other shorts from some of the other series they made....like Charley Chase, Andy Clyde and the musical novelties that are never seen anymore."
Not as bad as movie historians said they were, the Columbia
C. Taylor | 04/07/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As a fan of BUSTER KEATON I have always wanted a collection of all of his works, and not just the 19 shorts and 11 feature length films he starred in during the silent era, even if they were his best. In the past I have bought Laserdisc box sets of all his MGM sound movies as well as his earlier work on the Arbuckle shorts. I am still waiting for his foreign work to become available in this country as well as his Educational shorts and 50's Television series. I was thrilled to see that Columbia was finally releasing all of his sound shorts he made for their studio.
While both his Educational and Columbia shorts have always had a reputation as being nothing but crap, that was not the case upon viewing them for the first time. The films offer the same quality of material that can bee seen in their Three Stooges shorts, and Keaton himself was still a talented screen comedian able to sell even the simplest joke. There are laughs in these movies, but just don't expect the quality of his earlier work.
The Columbia shorts had little budget and were shot on a three day schedule. Keaton himself thought that if they had allowed him more time on each short then he could have made them masterpieces. Some of the shorts were remakes of his feature films, and one of them, "The Pest From The West", was not only a remake of "The Invader" but the only one of the Columbia shorts that Buster was happy with. [ "The Invader" itself, one of the last feature films that Buster was given creative control over, was plagued with a disastrously low budget and turned out to be a misfire for Keaton. "Pest From The West" gave him a chance to finally get that film right, even if 40 minutes shorter. ]
The discs themselves do not offer the movies in chronological order, but it seems as if someone decided to have the less appealing movies first then build to the movies with the most laughs. They are quality prints but in at least one film, "His Ex Marks The Spot", there is some question to if some footage is missing or if the strange edits were on the final release prints as seen in the theaters. As these films were made cheap and fast I would not expect there to be any existing material for any extras. Columbia has, however, provided their own documentary made exclusively for the DVD which talks about Keaton's transition from silent to sound films. Surprisingly the documentary admits that these films were no where as good as the silent shorts and were considered a low point artistically for Buster. The documentary's only shortcoming is that there are very few behind the scene details about the Columbia shorts. Each short also has its own commentary track by various film historians.
This brings us to the packaging. There have been many complaints by Keaton fans that the packaging is misleading. The cover shows a picture of Keaton from the 1920's and the back cover has a cartoon image of Keaton from "The Cameraman". Only in very small pictures on the back do we see a 45 year old Keaton in stills from the shorts. True this is misleading, but to whom? Non Keaton fans would not realize the difference and would probably get a kick out of the movies without knowing that there are better silent shorts out there. Keaton fans would already own all the existing silent era movies and would certainly know in a moment from reading the description and movies listed on the back that these are the later Columbia shorts. In fact the packaging itself could probably drive off potential buyers who mistake it for another re-release of the silent films they already own. More likely the reason why these pictures were used in the first place was that they were public domain. None of the publicity stills I have seen for the Columbia shorts has a typical image of Buster that could be used on the box's cover. And then there is a question as to who owns the rights to Buster Keaton's image. I know that in the case of Laurel & Hardy, Larry Harmon owns those rights which is why Image was limited to the same picture for most of their DVD and Laserdisc releases while other L&H movies had B&W plublicity photos repainted or colorized for the boxes cover. Any new image of Laurel & Hardy could not be done without Harmon's permission. I don't know if the same kind of rules play into Keaton's, but if such rules exist then it could legally limit what Columbia can put on their box.