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Steamboat Bill Jr  [DVD]
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Perhaps the best known of all Buster Keaton s films, this was his last film for independent producer Joseph Schenck and also one of the last over which he was to have almost total control (although he was credited with just his acting, he is known to have co-directed, co-produced and co-written as well as performing his own stunts). Buster returns home after years of separation from his father. Whilst Steamboat Bill Senior is a burly, hard working steamboat captain, his son is almost the complete opposite: educated and effeminate, accident prone and simple minded. Ultimately, however, Steamboat Bill Junior triumphs and assists his father in overcoming a local rival for the lucrative Mississippi steamboat business, winning the affections of the rival s daughter for good measure. Buster s reputation was largely made on his death defying stunts, and this film is no exception. A three story building façade crashes down on him and Buster only survives because the third floor window opening clears his head!
Steamboat Bill Jr dates from 1928 and is the last great film Buster Keaton made before he gave up his independence and signed for MGM. Buster is the rather fey son of an elderly steamboat owner who is being driven out of business by a wealthy competitor. More by accident than intention Buster turns things around and gets the girl as well. The last 15 minutes are truly astonishing: a storm sequence in which a whole town is blown apart, with Buster experiencing a series of amazing escapes as buildings fall down around his ears.
On the DVD: The print is a good one, best seen in the 4:3 ration, with unobtrusive organ music added. As a nautical extra there's The Boat, a 1921 short (the print not in such a good state as the feature), in which in the course of launching his newly built craft Buster manages to wreck his house, tip his car into the river and sink the boat. And that's only the beginning. --Ed Buscombe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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One of the all-time greats and should be in every film-lovers collection. Good quality print and great value for moneyPublished on 17 April 2012 by Peter Jay