- Actors: Buster Keaton, Carl Harbaugh, Ernest Torrence, Tom Lewis, Tom McGuire
- Directors: Charles "Chuck" Riesner, Charles F. Reisner, Charles Reisner
- Producers: Joseph M. Schenck
- Format: NTSC
- Language: English
- Region: Region A/1
- Number of discs: 1
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: Kino Lorber films
- Release Date: July 6 2010
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- ASIN: B003H221MS
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #77,940 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
Steamboat Bill, Jr. [Blu-ray]
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STEAMBOAT BILL JR:ULTIMATE EDITION - Blu-Ray Movie
Buster Keaton stars in the story of a college-educated young man who comes home to help his father work on his Mississippi River steamboat and immediately demonstrates just what a landlubber he is. What's worse, the woman he falls for is the daughter of his father's worst rival, a bullying rich guy who wants to drive Buster's boat out of business. Keaton's slapstick is inspired and precise, particularly during an amazing sequence in which he tries to walk across town during a tornado. Watch in amazement as the front of a building falls on Keaton and he walks away without a scratch. --Marshall Fine --This text refers to the DVD edition.
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Steamboat Bill is a rough, working man, trying to keep his head above water in the steamboat ferry business despite his extremely wealthy competitor. He welcomes the forthcoming return of his son, who he hasn't seen since the boy's childhood. But when short, pampered Buster Keaton (the Junior of the title) arrives, Bill Sr.'s hopes of having a strong, vigorous young man to help his trade are dashed. But to make matters worse, Keaton is madly in love with the fetching young daughter of his rival, and the two lovers continue to see one another, despite the objections of their respective families. Yes, it's "Romeo and Juliet", had Shakespeare been less interested in suicide and more friendly with steamboats and slapstick.
Three years earlier, Keaton had done a film called SEVEN CHANCES (1925), a movie I felt wasn't really memorable until the long and hilarious chase sequence that begins towards the end of the film. And like SEVEN CHANCES, this film really takes off in its wild grand finale. Not that the film is bad beforehand. It isn't. There are numerous strong sequences. But I love Keaton when his pace really starts to pick up and he madly runs from one crazy sight gag to another. And once the rain starts falling and the hurricane turns up the intensity, the film presents us with some of the most successful material of his career, as well as the most famous. Everyone has seen the scene where the exterior wall tips over and Keaton only survives by standing where the empty window falls -- that's from this film. The pace resembles one of his more frantic short films, and the timing is, of course, superb.
The disc also contains two short films from earlier in Keaton's career. CONVICT 13 (1920) involves a case of mistaken identity. A golfing Keaton is accidentally put in jail, confused with a prisoner who is due to be executed that very day. This short is devilishly funny. The sequence of Keaton being hanged by an elastic rope has to be one of the funniest few seconds ever committed to celluloid. And, of course, it's always entertaining to see Joe Roberts in another amusingly over-the-top fight sequence where he gets to throw extras (and Keaton) around like ragdolls. This ranks as one of Keaton's strongest short films.
The other short film included is DAYDREAMS (1922). Actually, it would be more accurate to say that this is merely a reconstruction of the film itself, as a complete copy did not exist at the time of this release. That said, the fact that some minutes of footage are missing doesn't hurt the film at all (although I did dislike the apparent decision to slow down the occasionally piece of footage; it really hurt some of the gags). On the contrary, this is a fabulous twenty-two minutes, and while some of the gags are a bit predictable (he writes to his girlfriend that he's really "cleaning up" Wall Street; she imagines he's become a power player, but I think anyone reading this can guess what he's really doing), they are strikingly funny in execution. Some of the jokes are quite inventive and surprising. Keaton shoveling dirt into a trash can with no bottom is amusing (and a quiet recycling of an earlier joke), but it's hilarious when he shifts position to reveal that the receptacle was sitting on top of an open manhole cover with an angry sewer worker underneath.
This disc contains material from opposite ends of the 1920s, showcasing Keaton as an independent filmmaker creating both short and feature films. It's a great look from a cinema history point of view, but it's equally effective at showing us some damn good filmmaking. STEAMBOAT BILL, JR was the end of an era, but Keaton's independent career sure went out with style.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
..This film will make you smile, laugh..and gasp often...long before any high-end special visual effects.....and it is a silent-film!
Kino, as usual, has put together a package that rivals their previous one for THE GENERAL, with various music tracks for the film (although I wish they would have included Gaylord Carter's organ score which was on their previous DVD release and is his most majestic score) and extras, including behind-the-scenes photos and recordings of the song "Steamboat Bill" from the early days of recording.
Supposedly a Blu-Ray disc of OUR HOSPITALITY & SHERLOCK, JR. is in the works, and of course we have Kino's new restoration of METROPOLIS to look forward to at the end of the year or the beginning of next, so a tip of the captain's hat to the incredible people and the work they do at that company-keep it coming!