Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Shop now Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars7
3.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
1
4 star
4
3 star
0
2 star
2
1 star
0
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£9.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 1 May 2005
This is a very entertaining memoir and I think gives a good picture of Buster's personality, although his memory of details of his career isn't always reliable; and since he was quite a raconteur and told his favorite stories many times, I have no doubt that many of them took on new details over the years and shouldn't be taken literally. That doesn't make him a liar; he's an entertainer and a showman. He was also a remarkably modest, unassuming and generous person. He clearly didn't like to badmouth other people or dwell on self-pity, and he doesn't mention a lot of things for that reason.
However, part of the reason the memoir doesn't cover his "clinical depression" and his "abuse by his father" as some have complained, is because those didn't exist in the first place. Some extremely misleading biographies have been written about Keaton by people imposing their own morbid fantasies on this poor guy. Meade is notable for inventing nonsense, but she's not the only one. Except for a period of some five years in his life when he was understandably depressed after having lost the creative independence he had always been used to having, and becoming instead a trained dog at MGM, and despite several bouts of alcoholism which he eventually got control over, he was not a bitter or depressive man. Many people who met him in later life confirm this.
Furthermore, he had a very close relationship with his family through his entire life. He supported his mother and siblings even when he was broke himself, and lived with them during lean times. Also, he was in fact quite straightforward in his memoirs and in interviews about the rough time he did have with his father around the time that he reached his 20's, when his father's drinking led to a breakup of the Keaton act and the Keaton family, and it's also very clear that both before that and later on they were on good terms. Keaton's father acted in many of Buster's movies, sometimes with self-referential jokes that show how much they cracked each other up.
The fact that their vaudeville act was rough does not mean that Keaton was a victim of child abuse. If he had been, both his attitude and his career would have been entirely different. It's quite clear that Keaton enjoyed the rough stuff and gave as good as he got. He's also quite clear in his memoir that when the rough stuff did become abusive or dangerous because of his father taking to drink, Keaton didn't put up with it; he ended the act. And he didn't hold a grudge.
Keaton's a bigger and better person than any of his small-minded, dirt-obsessed biographers. We're still waiting for a really good, thorough, and objective biography. One of the best introductions to Keaton, though, if you can find it, is the three-part series "A Hard Act to Follow" done for Thames television by Kevin Brownlow. As far as books go, the beautiful picture book and memoir "Buster Keaton Remembered" by Jeffrey Vance and Eleanor Keaton, his wife of 26 years, is a fair-minded assessment although brief. Eleanor was an admirable and unsentimental lady. The other book that captures the man best (though it probably promulgates a few myths), is Rudi Blesh's "Keaton." He knew Buster personally and understood him. It's not that hard to find - read it instead of Marion Meade's spin. She should save that for her own autobiography.
0Comment|22 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 December 2014
Arrived promptly in very good condition. A very interesting read about one of the best silent slapstick comedians. Even if you are not a fan you will still enjoy it.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 29 July 1997
This book is written like Keaton is speaking, and provides a glimpse as to what the "the Great Stone Face" may have been like in conversation. The book is great fun, but don't look for great insights to the motivations and themes behind the films...Buster is about as vague on this as his famous face is immobile. Buster leaves out details on his hardest times (alcoholism, his second wife), so it comes as no surprise that this is more a testament to his survival in show business and resurrection in the late fifties. Be ready for the realization that the greatest silent film director of all time has no ego, doesn't take himself seriously, and is a simple guy with great intuition. If you are a Buster fan, you will love this, but for specifics on personal matters, seek out Meade's "Cut to the Chase".
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 5 May 2008
I'm not really sure what to make of this book. Judging from his films, I'd assumed that his writings would be whimsical + profound; instead he comes across as being very ordinary, sometimes bordering on boring. The book is mostly a list of facts + anecdotes in roughly chronological order, with his own feelings + opinions few + far between.
It seemed strange that he went into great detail about how much he was spending + earning, which wasn't entertaining, relevant, or endearing, yet he says very little about his personal life - in fact I don't think he even mentions the names of his first two wives, + his sons only ever come as a pair. Perhaps he thought the reader would only be interested in his career, or there was nothing very remarkable about his home + family, or a lot of people asked not to be mentioned, but it does make me wonder a) why he wanted to write the book at all, + b) whether he had something to hide.
It annoyed me that he never openly admitted or denied the adultery accusation, unless we take the strange story of the nameless woman who scratched his eyes out after apparently dropping in from space to tell him that she was entitled to some of his money for reasons unknown as a cryptic admission of guilt; Why else would he mention it? But I still wish he could have said straight out whether he did or didn't, + if so, why. As it is, I'm unimpressed.
On the plus side, there are plenty of amusing anecdotes + insights into the entrtainment industry 100 years ago. But overall I think it poses more questions than it answers, + I'm left feeling slightly disappointed.
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 October 1998
Keaton's description and detail of his life could have been much more thorough than what you get from this book. Unfortunately, this is the only account of his life written by him. I got the distinct impression that he intentionally avoided the truly painful areas of his life...his first wife, Natalie...the suicide of his close friend, Clyde Bruckman...the childhood abuse from his father...the clinical depression he grappled with for most of his life. It's these things which seem to have driven him, yet he barely speaks of them in this book. Marion Meade's ''Cut To The Chase'' provides an excellent cross-section of people who knew Buster. There's also a wonderful video called ''Buster Keaton: A Hard Act To Follow,'' which runs about three hours. Between the three sources I've mentioned, you may get a pretty good, well-rounded look at the life of a little man who set out to make people laugh a long time ago.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 29 July 1997
This book is written like Keaton is speaking, and provides a glimpse as to what the "the Great Stone Face" may have been like in conversation. The book is great fun, but don't look for great insights to the motivations and themes behind the films...Buster is about as vague on this as his famous face is immobile. Buster leaves out details on his hardest times (alcoholism, his second wife), so it comes as no surprise that this is more a testament to his survival in show business and resurrection in the late fifties. Be ready for the realization that the greatest silent film director of all time has no ego, doesn't take himself seriously, and is a simple guy with great intuition. If you are a Buster fan, you will love this, but for specifics on personal matters, seek out Meade's "Cut to the Chase".

Doug Straton, Degas98217@aol.com
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 4 March 1998
I was looking forward to hearing about the making of "The General" and "The Navigator" from Buster Keaton himself, in his own voice. Unfortunately, he barely mentions them. I want to ask, why? This book is one part "Hollywood Babylon" (lots of very ambitious chorus girls, practical jokes and irresponsible alcohol consumption), one part technical stuff about the business like how to construct a gag, what's funny and what isn't and why (Keaton shows clearly his fascination with the process), and one part biography that is better done in Meade's book. Keaton speaks with real affection of Arbuckle and Chaplin in particular and, as has been noted by others, he refuses to attack anyone who ever hurt or cheated him. He details the things that got a laugh; unfortunately it is the kind of physical humor that would probably make only children laugh today. I was disappointed. In addition to not getting much detail about the greatest parts of his career, there is no sign of the earnest, shy young heroes of his pictures. Of course this book is unique because it is the only record we have from the man himself, but the book is in an "as told to" style, and it shows. Some of Keaton's remarks are annoyingly cute, and he keeps skimming over the details of his life. I wanted to hear what he was thinking when he was making "The General," how he learned to act. This book is full of the reminiscences of an old man at the end of a long life, and only underscores the fact that the days of the great silent comedians, indeed the early days of Hollywood, are long gone.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)