Buster Keaton: 3 Films (Volume 2) | The Navigator, Seven Chances and Battling Butler get a 4K restoration on Blu-ray

From Eureka Entertainment comes a second collection of essential films from silent comedy genuis Buster Keaton, presented as part of The Masters of Cinema Series.

Between 1920 and 1929, Buster Keaton created a peerless run of feature films that established him as ‘arguably the greatest actor-director in the history of the movies’. Collected here are three further films from that era; The Navigator (1924), Seven Chances (1925) and Battling Butler (1926), and each one is presented in 4K restorations.

The Navigator (1924, dir. Buster Keaton & Donald Crisp) – Wealthy Rollo Treadway – a character who forms one of Keaton’s gallery of rich nitwits and was first seen in his first feature The Saphead (1920) – suddenly decides to propose to his neighbour across the street, Betsy (Kathryn McGuire), and sends his servant to book passage for a honeymoon sea cruise to Honolulu. When Betsy rejects his sudden offer, he decides to go on the trip anyway, boarding without delay that night. Because the pier number is partially covered, he ends up on the wrong ship, which Betsy’s rich father has just sold to a small country at war.

When 1924’s Sherlock Jr bombed with critics and public alike, Keaton endeavoured to make a follow-up that was both exciting and successful and so provided himself with the biggest prop he could lay his hands on to show off his comic mastery: an ocean liner. The result was the biggest hit of his career, with glowing reviews – The New York Times called it ‘an excellent panacea for melancholia or lethargy, as it is filled with ludicrous and intensely humorous situations’. It is now widely rated as Keaton’s finest feature apart from The General.

Seven Chances (1925, dir. Buster Keaton) – Jimmy Shannon (Keaton) learns he is to inherit $7million, with a catch. He will only get the money if he is married by 7pm on his 27th birthday, which happens to be that same day! What follows is an incredible series of escalating set-pieces. This one did big business at the box office and includes one of the best chase sequences of any Keaton movie.

Battling Butler (1926, dir. Buster Keaton). Keaton’s character, Rollo Treadway, resurfaces here and this time his dandy pretends to be a champion boxer keen to impress the family of the girl he loves. But when the real champ shows up, he decided to humiliate the imposter by having him fight the ‘Alabama Murderer’! Battling Butler actually did better box-office business than The General, and was one of Keaton’s personal favourites (although the critics were in two minds). It was also one of Martin Scorsese’s inspirations when he was making 1980’s Raging Bull, especially Butler’s final, uncomic fight.

Eureka Entertainment’s limited edition (3000) 3-disc Blu-ray release includes the following special features…

• 1080p presentations from the Cohen Film Collection’s 4K restorations, with musical scores composed and conducted by Robert Israel
The Navigator: audio commentary by silent film historians Robert Arkus and Yair Solan
Seven Chances: audio commentary by film historian Bruce Lawton
• Video essay by David Cairns covering all three films
The Navigator: documentary on the making of the film by Bruce Lawton
• Buster Keaton & Irwin Allen audio interview (1945, 6min)
• Buster Keaton & Arthur Friedman audio interview (1956, 32min)
• Buster Keaton & Robert Franklin audio interview (1958, 56min)
• Buster Keaton & Herbert Feinstein audio interview from 1960 [1960, 48min)
• Buster Keaton & Studs Terkel audio interview from 1960 [1960, 38min)
What! No Spinach? (1926, dir. Harry Sweet, 19min): Comedy short by US actor/director Harry Sweet, that riffs elements from Seven Chances
• Collector’s book featuring new writing and archival writing and imagery

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About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on April 26, 2020, in Classic, Comedy, Silent and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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