Buster Keaton: Three Films – Volume 3 (1923-1927) | Our Hospitality, Go West and College on Blu-ray
Congrats once again to Eureka Entertainment for bringing another trio of classics from the silent comedy genius that is Buston Keaton on Blu-ray for the very first time in the UK. And once again it’s packaged with a host of extras and a fantastic collector’s booklet.
Our Hospitality (1923) – 2k restoration
In this gag-filled take on the infamous Hatfield and McCoy feud, Keaton stars as the luckless William McKay, who is lured into a trap by a rival clan, the Canfields. But knowing that he won’t be killed as long as he remains inside their homestead, he tries to stay put against all obstacles. This was one of Keaton’s most significant features and a breakthrough in his career – it also features a rather scary climax involving some dangerous rapids. Included is a new audio commentary by silent film historian Rob Farr, and the shorter (55min) work-print, Hospitality, presented with a commentary by film historian Polly Rose. Plus, the video essay Making Comedy Beautiful by Patricia Eliot Tobias.
Go West (1925) – 4k restoration
In this one, Keaton plays the penniless Friendless who ride the rails to work on an Arizona ranch. But when his beloved cow, Brown Eyes (who gets her own credit), seems set for the slaughterhouse, Friendless intervenes… The stand-out scene in this little beauty is a cattle stampede. You also get an audio commentary by film historians Joel Goss and Bruce Lawton, a video essay by John Bengtson on the filming locations, and another one, A Window on Keaton, by David Cairns. Plus, the short film Go West [1923, 12 mins], and a stills gallery.
College (1927) – 2k restoration
Keaton followed up 1926’s The General with this higher education comedy in which he plays the scholarly anti-sports Ronald who tries to win the heart of schoolgirl Mary (Anne Cornwall) by becoming the one thing he is not – an athlete. But when Mary’s jock beau Jeff (Harold Goodwin) tries to force her into marriage, Ronald comes to the rescue… Filled with inventive physical gags, this is my favourite in the set. Also included is a video essay by John Bengtson on College’s filming locations, The Railrodder [1965, 24 mins] starring Keaton in one of his final film roles, optional audio commentary with director Gerald Potterton and cameraman David De Volpi, and an audio Q&A with Potterton [55 mins]. Plus, the documentary Buster Keaton Rides Again [1965, 55 mins], and stills galleries.
Out now on Blu-ray as part of Eureka’s The Masters of Cinema Series.
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