on 1 June 2007
In 1917 a 21 year old Buster Keaton walked on to a film set for the very first time and without a single retake made his screen debut in a comedy sketch in Arbuckle's 'The Butcher Boy'. This collection includes 13 of the 14 films that Arbuckle and Keaton made together (one remains lost) and all of the 19 independent shorts Buster made after getting his own studio in 1920. It charts Buster's early development as one of the greatest performers and directors in the history of film comedy. The films are wonderful, and if you don't already know them, you are in for a treat.
The accompanying book has some nice photos, as well as extracts from Buster's autobiography and interview transcripts, but most of it is given over to a discussion between three film writers which I didn't find particularly illuminating.
My big problem is with the audio commentaries. They are by one Joseph McBride, described as a 'film historian' but who seems to fancy himself a psychoanalyst. My advice is don't listen to them, because they will kill the comedy for you. If you must, treat them with caution. McBride is OK while he sticks to explaining the technical and creative aspects of the films and providing a little historical and sociological context. But when he moves into the realm of psychology he is on very shaky ground. His comments about Buster's personal life are, at best, speculative and, at worst, inaccurate and insulting. Take no notice of them. There are plenty of Keaton experts around who would have made a better job of this, and I'm surprised at Eureka Video's choice.
on 25 February 2009
If you are after the best restoration prints of the GREAT Buster Keaton short films than this is the set for you. It contains every surviving short he made solo and alongside Roscoe Fatty Arbuckle. All The shorts are in their most fullist versions and are accompanied by great musical scores.
The only downside to this set is that it does not contain his feature films. If you are after those I would purchase the 'Three Ages'/'College'/'Steamboat Bill Jr box set. These are of the best quality versions. I would also purchase 'The General' 2 disc dvd again as it contains the best available restored version of the film out there. And to complete his feature film set. I would purchase 'The Buster Keaton Chronicles' which contains the remaining feature films In as good quality as you can find.
It may be expensive to get all those sets, but what that when you can own the work of a genious. Especially this Shorts box set, beautifully and carefully made, with a great booklet with lots of information and of course it contains the films themselves in their best and most hilarious form.
on 17 February 2010
This is by far the best way to obtain all of Buster Keaton's surviving silent shorts, including the early ones with Roscoe Arbuckle. It's not 100pct perfect - "The Blacksmith" seems to derive from an early work print made before re-takes, "The Paleface" and "The Scarecrow" look a little sharper to me on Network's "Keaton Chronicles" set, "Moonshine" is a fragment only, "Daydreams" has footage missing from other prints but lacks footage found in the "Chronicles" version, the music soundtrack on "The Garage" is a bit out of synch and one gag in "The Love Nest" (involving a bottle of port) has lost its meaning due to a title card being badly re-translated back into English from a foreign print - BUT these are all minor flaws. For the most part, these are the best, most complete prints of these great films, with "Convict 13" in much better shape than usual and the long-missing ending of "Hard Luck" present and correct! Apart from the use of rather repetitive Columbia Phototone discs on "Out West", the music is fine - especially when it's piano accompaniment from the excellent Neil Brand. Recommended!
In 1917 an unassuming little chap in a strange flat hat strolled into a store and stood in some molasses with much mirth resulting. This was the first screen appearance of Buster Keaton, and from the off he made an impression.
This remarkable set collects all the existing Buster short films from the period 1917 to 1924, it does not include the shorts made fro MGM in the `30s. It is film after film of some incredibly accomplished and quite amazing visual humour, packed with truly remarkable stunts.
In the earliest material Buster was sidekick to Roscoe Arbuckle, and so he is necessarily in the background. These films where he is learning the craft are a real joy though. Especially with the very welcome presence of Arbuckle, a comedy great whose material is frustratingly hard to get hold of due to the ordure unfairly heaped upon his head after his infamous trial and acquittal.
In later films Buster takes on writing and directing duties, as well as moving to being the main star. He was given freedom to develop a style of his own, and took to opportunity with both hands. Innovative stunts and a love of gadgetry abound, and the laughs just keep on coming, even nearly a century later!
Eureka have done their usual excellent job with this set, and it is a real joy. The films have been restored lovingly and presented in their best possible form. Each has a sympathetic and well suited musical accompaniment. There is a fascinating book with excerpts from and interview with Buster and his autobiography talking about these early years of his career. It is a superb set with a real feel of quality and loving attention from the producers.
There are 4 discs, in 3 normal DVD cases and a booklet the width of one DVD case, all collected into a nice card slipcase. An essential purchase for any lovers of comedy.
on 19 January 2014
As a relatively new convert to the cult of Keaton, having only previouly seen The General, Sherlock Jr and Our Hospitality, I dropped some not-so-subtle hints about this box set and was delighted to receive it for Christmas. What a revelation! I am now totally and utterly besotted with the man! What a genius! I am trying very hard to ration myself to one short a day, but it isn't easy. There's so much material to choose from here, every evening I seem to find a new 'favourite' Keaton, although 'The Playhouse' has to be the best I've seen so far... A bargain box at this price, it also contains a lovely illustrated book to go alongside it. You'd have to be a total Blinking Buzzard to miss out on this...
on 14 January 2016
…this set includes the shorts Keaton did with "Fatty" Arbuckle between 1917-1920 ( the U.S. Kino release, NTSC format region 1, covers 1920-23- without any Arbuckle collaboration). These "shorts", I think, resulted from 2 or 3 different restoration efforts and "Moonshine" is only a 6:30 long fragment. Some of them are sepia toned, some weren't . Picture quality varies from short to short, most of them are pretty clear once you get past the opening segment.
Funny?, I personally didn't laugh much but at least I got to see some amazing, imaginative stunt work. Probably the better buy over the
Kino produced set it comes with a book related to the contents (includes picture, Keaton quotes, and modern day discussions on the set contents).
on 5 March 2013
this set includes the films made ith roscoe arbuckle, in which keaton's contribution varies considerably. the film quality is generally pretty good, despite the fragmentary nature of some of the archive, and the set includes a couple of
shorts (playhouse, cops) I hadn't been able to find elsewhere. all in all, a worthwhile purchase of a remarkable talent.
on 7 April 2008
truly superb boxset of the master.the films are are good prints and the added book has wonderful information.most suprising are the arbuckle films,suprisingly inventive.great cameos from buster too.along with stan laurel and chaplin buster was the greatest.everyone should own this set.
on 7 June 2009
Great box set of Keaton's short films. Includes a well illustrated book with lots of Keaton interviews.
I had only seen Keaton's feature films before, so all these films are new to me. The Fatty Arbuckle comedies that make up the first disc are very broad slapstick and Buster doesn't do much in them. They are a bit tiresome if I'm honest. The films get better the more Buster is involved. Some of them aren't all that funny, but there is enough to hold your interest. I haven't watched them all yet but "The Electric House" is my favourite so far. Really fascinating and funny.
on 4 August 2009
a truly superb set.the arbuckle and keaton shorts on discs 1 and 2 are worth the money alone.plus we get to see buster laugh.what more could you want.