Today Only: "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Battlestar Galactica: The Definitive Collection" starting at $68.99 For one day only: Star Trek: The Next Generation" and Battlestar Galactica: The Definitive Collection are at a one day special price. Offer valid on November 26, 2015, applies only to purchases of products sold by Amazon.ca, and does not apply to products sold by third-party merchants and other sellers through the Amazon.ca site. Learn more
Having been in the dumps for about a year both personally and career-wise his fortunes were starting to pick up again when in 1934 he approached Earle Hammons of Educational Pictures and asked him to give him a chance doing comedy shorts.Educational was a very low budget/rung of the ladder studio and shorts is what they did best.Hammons was intrigued enough by their meeting that he gave Buster the go ahead and what we have in this collection are the result.Some of the best writers on the subject of Keaton have said over and over how terrible it was for Buster to have had to stoop to such a degrading extent and how bad most of these films were.The truth is Buster wanted/needed to get back to what he knew best and if he had to suffer short term pain for long term gain,then he was willing to do what it took.No sob sister here folks,Keaton was a pro in many,many respects. Well after careful examination of each of these shorts it is my humble opinion that they are,in general,good and some even quite excellent.The weakest of the bunch is Palooka From Paducah.If its' terribly slow pace isn't bad enough his father seems terribly self conscious and wooden in front of the camera.The best thing about it is his mother who gives a boffo performance(as she would later in Love Nest on Wheels).ALL the films show the Buster Keaton of old and the personal touches of brilliance he was so very capable of exhibiting at a moments notice.He was taking falls and executing gags in some of these shorts as if it was 1922 again.Never mind those that say Buster was washed up and out of it,he still had it;the fact is it never left him,he always had it.He was one of the most brilliant gag men ever to come out of Hollywood,arguably THE best.Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
65 of 66 people found the following review helpful
Keaton makes the most of a bad situation and makes some pretty good shorts in the processMay 8 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
The sixteen shorts here are:
The Gold Ghost, Allez Oop, Palooka From Paducah, One Run Elmer, Hayseed Romance, Tars and Stripes, The E-Flat Man, The Timid Young Man, Three on a Limb, Grand Slam Opera, Blue Blazes, The Chemist, Mixed Magic, Jail Bait, Ditto and Love Nest on Wheels.The only extra features are some film notes and a photo gallery. These are the two reel comedies Keaton made for Educational Pictures after his fall from grace at MGM.
For those unfamiliar with the background story, Keaton, always an independent filmmaker until 1928, lost the financial backing of his brother-in-law Joe Schenck in late 1927 when Schenck decided to spend his money and time on his holdings at United Artists. He was encouraged to join Joe's brother's outfit - MGM. After finding no financial backing to continue on independently, he reluctantly gave in, and in the long-term this was a complete disaster for Keaton.
MGM was a movie factory - a good one, granted - but still a factory. Also, MGM's great talent was romances not comedy, and certainly not the physical kind in which Buster specialized. Keaton's marriage, long on shakey ground, hit the rocks in 1932, he took to drinking heavily to deal with the loss of his independence and his low-quality MGM scripts, and finally, in 1933, Louis Mayer fired Keaton after the completion of his seventh sound film "What No Beer", which actually made a great deal of money for MGM as all of Keaton's films did. Unable to find work among the big studios due to his bad reputation for being difficult, and also entering into a disastrous second marriage with his nurse, Keaton turned to Educational Pictures. Educational had originally made instructional films, but by 1934 they were a poverty row comedy short outfit, and Keaton was king of the lot.
However, their small budget meant there was no room for Keaton to do anything extravagant, plus you must remember that from 1934 until the end of 1935 Keaton was still drinking heavily. Only after the end of his second marriage at the end of 1935 did he finally conquer his addiction to some degree.
I'm waxing long-winded here because if you don't know the background and watch these shorts you may feel let down. You may wonder where is the Keaton of legend, of those great early 20's shorts. He's there, you just have to look a little harder. 1934's "Allez Oop" costars Keaton's one-time girlfriend Dorothy Sebastion, who was just then ending her marriage to Bill Boyd and needed work. She was his costar in "Spite Marriage" and lover during the late 20's. That's one thing you'll notice over and over - whenever anyone was in need, Keaton would always come through with a job when he could. Buster even got work for his parents and sister when they costarred with him in "Palooka From Paducah" about a hillbilly family that deals with the end of Prohibition by making the big brother of the family into a wrestler. "One Run Elmer" combines Keaton comedy with baseball and costars Buster's old friend and costar of "The Cameraman", Harold Goodwin.
The worst of these shorts are mildly amusing, most of them have some genuinely funny moments throughout such as "Blue Blazes" and "The Chemist", and one is just plain brilliant. That brilliant one is probably the one you've seen before - "Grand Slam Opera". This little short makes fun of Fred Astaire, the Major Bowes Amateur Hour, Keaton's own problems with drinking, and includes a pick-up line you'll never forget.
In summary, if you have any love of Keaton's comedy you're sure to like these too. Just come to them in the context of Keaton's situation at the time, and realize that Buster didn't have the budget that he had in the 1920's. How have I seen these before? They actually have all been on DVD before as a set by a little outfit known as Looser than Loose.
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
The underrated Keaton Educationals are a collector's dream!May 15 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Educational Pictures was originally established by Earle Hammons as a producer of instructional films, but Hammons soon found that comedies were more lucrative. From the early 1920s through 1939, Educational was a major supplier of short comedies. By 1934 Educational's biggest stars, Andy Clyde and Harry Langdon, had been signed by Columbia, and Hammons needed a big "star" name to replace them. Enter Buster Keaton.
Keaton's 16 Educational comedies are included in this new set. Most of them were filmed on low budgets and, incredibly enough considering the quickie schedules, they are more leisurely paced than his later slam-bang Columbia shorts, with Buster indulging in pantomime to a much greater extent. ALLEZ OOP, with Buster competing romantically with an aerialist; THE GOLD GHOST, with Buster lost in a ghost town; and ONE-RUN ELMER, with Keaton running a desolate gas station in the first reel and playing baseball in the second, are filled with silent Keaton bits.
Some of the shorts are good by Educational standards but run-of-the-mill for Buster, with the humor more evident in the premise than in the gags themselves. These are pleasant but uninspired: TARS AND STRIPES has Buster on a naval base, with two-reeler perennial Vernon Dent as his foil; PALOOKA FROM PADUCAH has hillbilly Buster refereeing a wrestling match; HAYSEED ROMANCE has Buster as a farmhand on big Jane Jones's ramshackle ranch. But there are some real gems here that will not disappoint Buster's admirers. GRAND SLAM OPERA is a wonderful sendup of Major Bowes's Amateur Hour, with Buster practicing dancing and juggling (for the radio audience!). BLUE BLAZES has Buster as an inept fireman from the city, transferred to a suburban station and becoming a one-man rescue squad. JAIL BAIT is a very funny short with Buster being falsely convicted, and then trying to catch the real criminal. LOVE NEST ON WHEELS, the last of the series, has Buster and his family (his real mother, brother, and sister) running a hillbilly hotel, with his old crony Al St. John in his familiar "Fuzzy" makeup. All 16 shorts have worthwhile Keaton routines; his antics are still clever and his gags are still inventive.
The Keaton shorts were extremely successful in theaters, with Educational proudly promoting the best ones in full-page magazine ads. He might have continued with Educational, but financial pressures forced Hammons to close his California studio. I'm willing to bet that Hammons tried to relocate Keaton to his New York studio: BLUE BLAZES, THE CHEMIST, and MIXED MAGIC were filmed at Educational East and actually staged by Keaton himself.
Unlike the flawless restorations of Keaton's Columbia shorts, the Educational prints are in variable physical condition. That's no surprise, given the films' scattered availability since Educational's demise. Some of the shorts are in excellent shape; splices and wear do show up in the lesser prints. (MIXED MAGIC is noticeably damaged in its opening scenes and the spliced frames have been removed digitally.) The good news is that the pictorial quality is fine, at least one generation better than prints that have been circulating for years. (Kino has a sampling of the quality on its website.)
For decades this body of Buster Keaton's work was difficult to see, so it's great to have the entire collection in one set. If you like Buster Keaton you can't go wrong.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Buster shows what a pro he was-these shorts are good!July 28 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Having been in the dumps for about a year both personally and career-wise his fortunes were starting to pick up again when in 1934 he approached Earle Hammons of Educational Pictures and asked him to give him a chance doing comedy shorts.Educational was a very low budget/rung of the ladder studio and shorts is what they did best.Hammons was intrigued enough by their meeting that he gave Buster the go ahead and what we have in this collection are the result.Some of the best writers on the subject of Keaton have said over and over how terrible it was for Buster to have had to stoop to such a degrading extent and how bad most of these films were.The truth is Buster wanted/needed to get back to what he knew best and if he had to suffer short term pain for long term gain,then he was willing to do what it took.No sob sister here folks,Keaton was a pro in many,many respects. Well after careful examination of each of these shorts it is my humble opinion that they are,in general,good and some even quite excellent.The weakest of the bunch is Palooka From Paducah.If its' terribly slow pace isn't bad enough his father seems terribly self conscious and wooden in front of the camera.The best thing about it is his mother who gives a boffo performance(as she would later in Love Nest on Wheels).ALL the films show the Buster Keaton of old and the personal touches of brilliance he was so very capable of exhibiting at a moments notice.He was taking falls and executing gags in some of these shorts as if it was 1922 again.Never mind those that say Buster was washed up and out of it,he still had it;the fact is it never left him,he always had it.He was one of the most brilliant gag men ever to come out of Hollywood,arguably THE best. The shorts start with The Gold Ghost(released March 16/34) to the last one Love Nest on Wheels(released March26/37).The last is especially endearing as it has all of the Keaton clan in it(with the exception of his father Joe)and his old pal from the Arbuckle days Al St John.Also along the way in these films you will spot people like Tiny Sandford from the Roach studios who was a common nemesis for Laurel and Hardy,Bud Jamison and Vernon Dent from the Keystone studios who moved on to better pastures at Columbia and Harold Goodwin who had been with Buster on and off since his silent days and would remain with him well into the 50s. Technically speaking the films are a mixed bag.Some are in only fair shape while others are very good.Some will exhibit jumps and unexpected cuts and others will have the voice and lips slightly out of sync(which with todays technology should have been very easy to correct).In all fairness though Kino does provide a kind of disclaimer on the back cover and here it is verbatim:"These DVDs were transfered from 35mm negatives and fine grain masters culled from Keaton's personal collection and other archival sources by Raymond Rohauer.Some films exist in less than perfect condition,which is not atypical for low budget"orphan" films such as these".That pretty much says it all,doesn't it? "Orphan" is right as Educational films folded in 1939 and the films and film stock were picked up by Astor pictures.Educational's silent product was mostly destroyed by fire in 1937.Astor survived until 1963 when they in turn folded.Where the films reside now and what condition they are in is a big question mark.They usually surface,like these,from private collectors. Some big names got their start at Educational such as Shirley Temple,Bing Crosby,Bob Hope,Roy Rogers,Danny Kaye to name just a few.It was a cheap outfit from the brick and mortar right down to the film stock but served its purpose in more ways than one. In my way of thinking we have three people to thank for these films,Kino notwithstanding.First is Educational Pictures,specifically Earle Hammons for giving Buster a needed break.Next is Buster himself with enough personal intestinal fortitude to do what it took to get himself back on track despite his career,personal and financial troubles.Lastly we MUST thank a man as important to Keaton's overall career as Arbuckle was to his early one;Raymond Rohauer.Without his relentless dedication to Keaton and his films we may never have had the film product to examine to the extent we have it today. If I have any kind of problem with this set(besides the aforementioned sound-sync problem)it is the plastic holder of the first disc in the snap case.It is on a "floating" platform(you can move it like a page on a book)and I have a devil of a time getting the disc off and out without scuffing the surface.It is a minor thing to be sure but I thought you should be aware of it when you are attempting to handle it.The second disc sits tight on the inside back cover-no problems there. All in all this set is a must have edition for any Keaton fan or fan of good comedy.They are historically quite important and it is wonderful to have all of these shorts together in one collection.While the films' comedy quality certainly varies,I guarantee ALL of them still show a brilliant comedian on top of his game and executing gags beautifully.I think the history books need a re-write.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Some Good Keaton in Unrestored PrintsJuly 9 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
I always wondered what Keaton would have done in the 1930s if someone had said, "Here's a 16mm camera, a crew, a troupe, and $15,000. Do whatever you want." Well, watching these Educational films is pretty close to knowing...
One day I happened to be at the Essanay Theatre when they screened (a very poor print of) "The Chemist". It occurred to me that if any of the other Educational movies were close to that good, they would be quite a find. I'd already seen "Grand Slam Opera" and in spite of the common mythology I thought "The Chemist" was better; in fact in a low-budget way (and slowed down a little by sound) it seemed practically vintage Keaton.
How true it is that these shorts are almost somnolent in comparison with Keaton's wildly imaginative and fast-moving silent shorts, but comparing ANYTHING with Keaton's silents is a big, BIG order! As it turns out, there is more than a smattering of good stuff in this collection. Can you really watch the baseball game in "One Run Elmer" without laughing? Or Keaton as a scarecrow? Or the frantic marriage-mix-ups in "Three on a Limb"? Or not marvel at Keaton's mother dangling upside down? Or at the outrageous scripting for the final third of "Ditto"?
In spite of my 2-star rating, mostly having to do with Kino's sloppy quality non-assurance, I do recommend these films if you like Keaton and have already seen his silent movies. There is a LOT of "Keaton" in these little films. And I must stress how, as always, my judgment differs from the norm, particularly the critical norm: I find these movies delightful and have watched several of them many times. I have nothing negative to say about such titles as "The Chemist", "One Run Elmer", "Blue Blazes" and "Love Nest on Wheels". Some of the other more flawed films are even more watchable when taken on their own modest and rather charming terms.
We owe Kino thanks for digging out some better-than-average prints and presenting them in full-frame format. But I must point out that Kino has done no restoration, and apparently not a whole lot of hunting around for the best materials (David Shepard, where are you?), so the prints are what they are: not too bad but a little fuzzy here, a little dark there, some dust and crud here and there, some out-of-focus scenes and a few missing frames. Although the image is beautifully clear, "Mixed Magic" is butchered from old splices; "Allez Oop" is missing the few seconds of the shot where the girl hands Keaton the tickets to the circus, so you never know what happened in this scene (there is a complete version of this available from Looser Than Loose); in "Hayseed Romance" the sound is about 12 frames late from the picture, as is "The E-Flat Man", and Kino didn't even bother to fix this when transferring to digital print (Kino can be very, VERY careless--as in, they can't seem to care less about their quality: see my review about their soundtracks to "The General"). The sound in several movies is actually worse than in the 16mm-to-DVD copies I have from Looser than Loose ("The E-Flat Man" is pretty crackly in this Kino version, but the picture is much better; same for "Love Nest on Wheels"). There is visual digital noise in night scenes.
I do hope that someday someone can find better prints or negatives, or at least combine these prints with other more complete prints, and do other real restoration work on these odd little films. Taking better sound from one print and putting it on another print with better picture doesn't take much work, and combining prints is not as hard as you might think, given today's film-editing computer software. In the meantime, the quality here is acceptable, and the anthology is historically significant. It is also very entertaining. I give Kino 2 stars for the reproductions, the movies themselves are perhaps from 1 to 3 stars; Keaton's improvisations and acting are 4 stars.
Yes, I know, we will all and always bemoan Keaton's blighted career, and future generations will continue to harshly judge the talent-crushing pigheaded stupidity at MGM, the arrogant mechanicalism at Columbia, and the woeful budgets of Educational; but that doesn't help us much. Here at least we have some kernels of wheat amongst the chaff. Not enough for a full meal, not so exotic as an appetizer, but a modest snack. And I have a weakness for nibbling...
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Hilarious, enjoyable and Keaton talkies that are worth having in your collection!Nov. 5 2010
[KNDY] Dennis A. Amith
- Published on Amazon.com
their lead actor getting hurt) and Buster Keaton continued his downward slope in his career and also his life as an alcoholic. Despite his talkie films at Columbia being quite successful and profitable, his life behind-the-camera was not going so well at all. His life was delaying production and several incidents took place behind-the-scenes that although Keaton would continue to work but focus on making films for Columbia in Europe in 1993-1934, MGM had no choice but to release him and no studio wanted to hire him.
But in 1934, Keaton did return to Hollywood when an old friend got him work at Educational Pictures ran by Earl (E.W.) Hammons. What was originally a company that was going to focus on instructional films for schools, Hammons learned the profitability of comedies and he began releasing films and shorts. For Buster Keaton, Keaton made his Hollywood comeback with 16 two-reel comedies and now these comedy shorts (which pay homage to his original work) have been released on a 2-disc DVD set titled "Lost Keaton" courtesy of Kino International.
The 16 two-reel comedies were budgeted at $20,000 each and $5,000 went to Keaton per episode, while $15,000 were budgeted for sets, props, costumes and supporting casts. These were low-budget comedy shorts and a production schedule that were shot in 3-5 days and were shot very early in the morning to save money.
"Lost Keaton" features the following episodes (note: spoilerless summaries):
* The Gold Ghost - (1934, 21 minutes) Directed by Charles Lamont, Buster Keaton plays the character of Wattie, a man who is out of luck and love and decides to go to a place where he's alone. Wattie goes to a ghost town and becomes the sheriff but sooner or later, more and more people start to move in to town. * Allez Oop - (1934, 20 minutes) Directed by Charles Lamont, Buster Keaton debuts the role of his comic persona "Elmer". Elmer is a clock repairman and falls for a customer and the two go out on a date to a circus where she becomes smitten with one of the trapeze artists. Can Elmer win her back? * Palooka from Paducah - (1935, 20 minutes) Directed by Charles Lamont, Buster Keaton plays Jim Diltz, the son of a family of Hillbilly's (played by his real life family) who need to make money for the family and thus, goes to the big city to support their son, Elmer (played by Dewey Robinson) who is wrestling for money. * One Run Elmer - (1935, 19 minutes) Directed by Charles Lamont, Buster plays the character of Elmer who owns a gas station in the middle of nowhere. When another man tries to build a gas station, right across his, the two compete against each other. The film marks the appearance of actress Lona Andre. * Hayseed Romance - (1935, 20 minutes) Directed by Charles Lamont, Buster plays Elmer Doolittle, who answers an ad to work at a farm and literally become the man of the woman who wrote the ad. He first meets the beautiful Molly (played by Dorothea Kent) but finds out the ad is from the tough as nails Miss Green (played by Jane Jones). Can Elmer escape? * Tars and Stripes - (1935, 20 minutes) Directed by Charles Lamont, Buster plays the character of Apprentice Seaman Elmer Dolittle, a seaman who is constantly put in the brig because he keeps getting in trouble and is quite clumsy. But what happens when his commanding officer (played by Vernon Dent) finds his girlfriend (played by Dorothea Kent) flirting with Elmer. * The E-Flat Man - (1935, 20 minutes) Directed by Charles Lamont, Buster plays Elmer, a man who runs off with his girlfriend (played by Dorothea Kent) to get married. The two don't know that a duo of robbers are on the loose and somehow they are mistaken as the robbers and police start to go after both Elmer and his girlfriend. * The Timid Young Man - (1935, 20 minutes) Directed by Mack Sennett and Buster Keaton (the only time the two have worked together), Buster plays a Milton who is through with women (because a bossy woman wants to marry him) and actress Lona Andre plays a woman (who doesn't want to marry an old man that her father arranged for her) who is through with men and the two end up leaving town together and getting away from their troubles but somehow the two find trouble.
* Three On a Limb - (1936, 18 minutes) Directed by Charles Lamont, Buster Keaton plays Elmer Brown, a man who wants to marry Molly (played by Lorna Andre) but her father wants her to marry the police officer Harold Goodwin (played by Homer) and her mother wants her to marry Oscar (played by Grant Withers). Who will end up marrying Molly? * Grand Slam Opera - (1936, 21 minutes) Directed by Charles Lamont, Buster Keaton plays the character of Elmer Butts, a man who wants to perform on the Grand Slam Opera radio show. Considered by many as the best episode Buster Keaton did for Educational Films. * Blue Blazes - (1936, 19 minutes) Directed by Raymond Kane, Buster Keaton plays Elmer, a fireman who can't get anything right. But when a fire takes place in an apartment, Elmer must save the tenants. * The Chemist - (1936, 19 minutes) Directed by Al Christie, (in the only collaboration between both Buster Keaton and Christie), Buster plays the character of Elmer "Happy" Tripple, a scientist who is expected to develop the next big thing. That big thing ends up to be a powder when combined with water, produces major blasts that make no sound, which catches the eyes of three robbers who want Elmer's secret powder. * Mixed Magic - (1936, 16 minutes) Directed by Raymond Kane, Buster plays Elmer "Happy" Butterworth, who tries out for a job to become a magician's assistant, despite not knowing magic. * Jail Bait - (1937, 19 minutes) Directed by Charles Lamont, Buster Keaton plays "The Office-Boy" who needs $98 to buy his girlfriend a ring but since he has no money, he runs into a thug who asks him to fake a crime, take the blame and he will get his $98. But of course, by confessing a crime, the office-boy gets more than he is expecting. * Ditto - (1937, 17 minutes) Directed by Charles Lamont, Buster Keaton plays the iceman who falls for a woman (which he doesn't know are twins, played by Gloria and Barbara Brewster). * Love Nest On Wheels - (1937, 18 minutes) The final Educational film starring Buster Keaton and directed by Charles Lamont, Buster Keaton plays the character of Elmer and stars Keaton's family and friends. Elmer and his family run a broken down hotel and a couple stop by in town to stay at the hotel, not knowing how bad of shape it truly is in. But a man is demanding money or else he will close down the hotel, can Elmer and family raise enough money in time?
The episodes in "LOST KEATON" is presented in black and white (1:33:1 aspect ratio). Quality for the majority of the films are in great shape. There a scratches and dust that can be seen but not so bad where it distracts the overall quality of the film. Overall, I'm quite pleased that these shorts which are nearly 80-years-old are in good shape.
The episodes of "LOST KEATON" is presented in monaural. Dialogue is clear and understandable. Audio does differ in each episode (the last two episodes are probably the two that come off with static), but for the most part, audio can be heard. It's also important to note that because these shorts showcase more of Buster Keaton's physical comedy, although there is dialogue, there is more focus on the physical comedy and thus dialogue is featured less throughout these 16 episodes.
"LOST KEATON" comes with the following special features:
* Film Notes - The following features short notes about each episode and Buster Keaton's involvement in those episodes. Written by David Macleod, author of "The Sound of Buster Keaton". * Photo Gallery - Featuring still photography of Buster Keaton courtesy of David Macleod, Bruce Lawton and Douris UK Ltd. Using your remote (or PC arrow buttons), viewers can cycle through each photo. * "Why The Call Him Buster" - (1:11) A musical montage of pratfalls and stunts created to promote the upcoming release of KINO's "Lost Keaton".
This is the first time I have watched the Buster Keaton Educational Film shorts and I'm quite impressed with what the crew came up with considering the short budget they had, but if anything, Buster Keaton does a great job in showing us that many years after "The General" and "Steamboat Bill, Jr." and countless other silent films that he had made, that he can still deliver in physical comedy.
In many ways, these shorts kind of remind me of the fun that I enjoyed while watching the Little Rascals shorts but without children, we have Buster Keaton. In each episode, Keaton does say a few lines but for the most part, his physical comedy that he is known for is what is spotlighted in each episode.
Of course, when compared to his films that he did in the '20s, there is obviously differences in budget but considering that these were short films on a low budget, the majority of the 16 shorts featured in "Lost Keaton" were quite hilarious and fun to watch.
I have quite a few favorites but I noticed that I enjoyed the pairing between Keaton and Lona Andre (who has this slight resemblance to Myrna Loy) and episodes such as "Three on a Limb" and "The Timid Young Man" but episodes where Buster Keaton does shine are episodes like "Grand Slam Opera" which was an amazing sight to see Keaton reacting and dancing to various music from other countries and he does a fantastic job in those scenes. Another favorite was the short titled "Allez Oop" in which Buster plays a man who tries to show that he can do trapeze work (since the girl he likes falls for a trapeze artist) and "Hayseed Romance" as Buster is working at a farm and finds out that he may have to stay there by force.
But there are many fun episodes such as "The Gold Ghost", "Tars and Stripes", "The E-Flat Man", "The Chemist" and many more. As for shorts that aren't that great, to tell you the truth, there is only one bad one which is "Ditto" (which seems fine at the beginning but has this unusual second half that made no sense). If anything, I found all 16 episodes to be quite fun and hilarious. It's a shame that Keaton didn't do more of these shorts at Educational Films but then again, Fox Film Corporation which distributed these shorts would end up withdrawing their support of Educational Films in 1937 and less than two years later, Educational Films would file for bankruptcy.
Keaton would go on to make ten more shorts for Columbia Pictures in 1939 but these were considered his weakest work and Keaton vowed to never "make another crummy two-reeler".
If anything, Kino International has done a wonderful service for Keaton fans by releasing these 16 comedy shorts on DVD for a great price! Once again, picture quality is pretty good for these nearly 80-year-old short films and audio quality is good, if anything, I wish there was a featurette, possibly interviews with Keaton scholars about his work at Educational Films or something extra included aside from the photo gallery and the same "Lost Keaton" one minute video that was featured on the "Steamboat Bill, Jr." Blu-ray and DVD release. But I did enjoy the inclusion of the film notes by David Macleod and now I'm very much interested in reading his book "The Sound of Buster Keaton".
Overall, I'm sure silent film fans may find these comedy shorts too different than his silents but for me, I appreciate the work that Buster Keaton was able to do during the silent era and the sound era. He doesn't do much acting in terms of spoken dialogue but it works well because what makes the film so entertaining is his physical comedy and also seeing him partnered with leading ladies (who did a good job with their own style of comedy which complimented his physical comedy) in some of these episodes such as actresses Lona Andre and Dorothea Kent.
"Lost Keaton" is definitely a set worth owning and recommended for fans of Buster Keaton and those looking for humorous comedy based shorts from the mid-1930's. Definitely recommended!