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  • Comedy Greats: Buster Keaton/Charlie Chaplin/Danny Kaye (Box Set) [DVD]
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Comedy Greats: Buster Keaton/Charlie Chaplin/Danny Kaye (Box Set) [DVD]

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Product details

  • Actors: Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Danny Kaye, Walter Slezak, Barbara Bates
  • Directors: Henry Koster, Mack Sennett, Charles Reisner
  • Producers: Buster Keaton, Mack Sennett, Joseph M. Schenck
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Siren
  • DVD Release Date: 3 Feb. 2003
  • Run Time: 231 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B00007JGLZ
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 190,206 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Classic comedy triple bill. In 'Tillie's Punctured Romance' (1917) Charlie Chaplin plays a conman who tricks an innocent young girl into giving him her father's savings. In 'Steamboat Bill Jr' (1923) Buster Keaton plays the son of a steamboat captain who arrives back from college to help out with the family business and surprises everyone with his breathtaking lack of nautical ability. Finally, in 'The Inspector General' (1949), Danny Kaye plays an illiterate showman who gets mistaken for the Inspector General by the inhabitants of a small Russian village, leading to much confusion and skullduggery.


A "two-plus-one" package from Siren, Comedy Greats features classics from the two greatest silent-screen comics, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, plus a rather dreary effort from Danny Kaye. Never the most scintillating of comedians, Kaye's personable talents are thinly spread in 1949's The Inspector General. Distantly(!) based on a short story by Russian satirist Nikolay Gogol, this tale of mistaken identity enables Kaye to indulge in obvious wisecracks and not-so-smart dialogue. Sylvia Fine's songs are mildly amusing, and Henry Koster draws capable support from Walter Slezak and Elsa Lanchester, but it's a long haul.

When he made Tilli's Punctured Romance in 1914, Charles Chaplin had yet to perfect the "little man" routine which made him the most popular 1920s screen star. His loveable rogue is well displayed opposite Marie Dressler's formidable country maid, whose unexpected windfall becomes the real object of his desire. Mabel Normand contributes an attractively period chic, and if, in the hands of Mack Sennett, the humour tends to fall back on music-hall slapstick, the historical significance of the film is undoubted.

Yet it's Buster Keaton's 1928 classic Steamboat Bill Jr which comes out on top here. Keaton is perfectly cast as the put upon student, whose bravery saves both his father and his steamboat-owning rival, and wins the hand of the latter's daughter. Solid support comes from Ernest Torrence and the winsome Marion Byron, with Charles Riesner getting maximum drama from the cyclone sequence, but it's Keaton's soulful expression and breathtaking stuntwork which are the most potent reminders of a talent only later to receive its due.

On the DVD: Comedy Greats is acceptably remastered, with 1.33:1 aspect ratio and 12 chapter headings per film, and decently packaged, this is worth acquiring--even though Keaton's film is the only one you're likely return to often. --Richard Whitehouse

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Clark on 22 Jun. 2004
Like me, I imagine that most people will be picking this one up solely for the excellent "Steamboat Bill Jr"; and, so far as that goes, they won't be disappointed with the quality of transfer, although they might wonder at the complete absence of extras. Like me, they will probably eventually get round to watching "Tillie's Punctured Romance" out of sheer boredom, as well as because of Chaplin, and like me will almost certainly be unsurprised to find the thing an unwatchable (In all senses of the word; the transfer is probably as good as it could've been under the circumstances, but it's still pretty dire.) piece of pap, of strictly limited value even as a curiosity. This experience will probably put them off watching the third of the movies included here, which is a terrible shame as "The Inspector General" is actually a cheerful and entertaining little movie, with a few genuine laugh-out-loud moments; but, at £15, this pack just doesn't offer enough incentive not to buy "Steamboat Bill Jr" separately.
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