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Buster Keaton: The Short Films Collection (1920-1923)

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Director s : Buster Keaton, Eddie Cline
Starring: Buster Keaton
Country : U.S.
Genre s : Blu-ray, Buster Keaton, Comedy
Type: Color and B&W
Year: 1920-23
Length: 388
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

SYNOPSIS

Authorized by the Buster Keaton estate and mastered in HD from 35mm archival film elements, The Short Films Collection gathers all of Keaton’s solo silent comedies in one monumental three-disc set. Widely considered to be among Keaton’s finest work, the nineteen two-reel shorts are loaded with laughs, punctuated by breath-taking stunts, and bursting with raw creativity. Over the course of this three-year period, Keaton evolved from a successful slapstick comedian into one of cinema’s most inventive visual stylists, and became an enduring icon of American popular culture.

DISC 1
After serving a three-year apprenticeship under slapstick superstar Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, former child vaudevillian Joseph Frank “Buster” Keaton was promoted from supporting player to comic lead, and hired to star in a series of twenty two-reel comedies (usually written and directed with Eddie Cline). This collection of Keaton’s seven initial solo efforts—authorized by the estate of Buster Keaton and mastered in HD from archival 35mm elements—reveals his cinematic genius just as it was beginning to flower. Already one can see the qualities that would define his later work: the fascination with oversized mechanical props (the prefabricated house of ONE WEEK), dynamic stunts and chases (THE SCARECROW, THE HAUNTED HOUSE), and a penchant for dark
comedy (CONVICT 13, HARD LUCK).

THE “HIGH SIGN”
1920/21 B&W 19 Min.
Directed by Buster Keaton
and Eddie Cline
Also presented in a digitally enhanced version.
Visual essay by R. Emmet Sweeney

ONE WEEK
1920 B&W 24 Min.
Directed by Buster Keaton and Eddie Cline
Visual essay by David B. Pearson

CONVICT 13
1920 B&W 19 Min.
Directed by Buster Keaton and Eddie Cline

THE SCARECROW
1920 B&W 18 Min.
Directed by Buster Keaton and Eddie Cline
Visual essay by Ken Gordon

NEIGHBORS
1921 B&W 19 Min.
Directed by Buster Keaton and Eddie Cline

THE HAUNTED HOUSE
1921 Color Tinted 20 Min.
Directed by Buster Keaton and Eddie Cline
Visual essay by Jack Dragga

HARD LUCK
1921 B&W 21 Min.
Directed by Buster Keaton and Eddie Cline
Visual essay by Bruce Lawton

DISC 2
Spanning the central phase of Keaton’s solo silent shorts, this collection observes the young actor/director as his films were becoming increasingly ambitious. In some ways, these cinematically adventurous two-reelers are like prototypes of the features yet to come. The massive police chase of COPS would evolve into the bridal stampede of Seven Chances, the Western-themed THE PALEFACE is an obvious precedent to Go West, the camera trickery of THE PLAY HOUSE foreshadows Sherlock Jr., and THE BOAT might be viewed as a smaller-scale version of The Navigator. However, these films are anything but practice runs.  To many viewers, the fleet-footed comedies presented here showcase Keaton’s genius for comedy in its purest essence: brief, energetic, recklessly creative, and unencumbered by the
narrative complexities requisite to a feature film.

THE GOAT
1921 B&W 23 Min.
Directed by Buster Keaton and Mal St. Clair
Visual essay by David Kalat

THE PLAY HOUSE
1921 B&W 23 Min.
Directed by Buster Keaton and Eddie Cline
Visual essay by Patricia Eliot Tobias

THE BOAT
1921 B&W 23 Min.
Directed by Buster Keaton and Eddie Cline
Also presented in a digitally enhanced version.

THE PALEFACE
1922 B&W 20 Min.
Directed by Buster Keaton and Eddie Cline
Visual essay by Bret Wood

COPS
1922 B&W 18 Min.
Directed by Buster Keaton and Eddie Cline
Also presented in a
digitally enhanced version.
Visual essay by Ben Model

MY WIFE’S RELATIONS
1922 B&W 17 Min.
Directed by Buster Keaton and Eddie Cline
Visual essay by Steve Massa

DISC 3
In the last of Keaton’s solo silent shorts, the actor/writer/director seemed to be straining at the limits of the two-reel comedy, both in
terms of length (DAY DREAMS, which exists in fragmentary condition, was originally released as a three-reeler) as well as content. Plotting and romance turned sketchy as Keaton devoted more attention to the visual setpieces that had become his hallmark: stuck within a steamboat’s paddlewheel in DAY DREAMS, victimized by his own mechanical inventions in THE ELECTRIC HOUSE, and caught in an amusement park house of horrors in THE BALLOONATIC. After making nineteen shorts (of a contractually-obligated twenty), Keaton and his partners agreed that he had fully mined the possibilities of the two-reeler and was ready for greater challenges. His
career as a feature filmmaker was ready to begin.

THE BLACKSMITH
1922 B&W 21 Min.
Directed by Buster Keaton and Mal St. Clair
Visual essay by Bruce Lawton

THE FROZEN NORTH
1922 B&W 17 Min.
Directed by Buster Keaton and Eddie Cline
Visual essay by Patricia Eliot Tobias

DAY DREAMS
1922 B&W 21 Min.
Directed by Buster Keaton and Eddie Cline
Visual essay by David B. Pearson

THE ELECTRIC HOUSE
1922 Color Tinted 23 Min.
Directed by Buster Keaton and Eddie Cline

THE BALLOONATIC
1923 B&W 22 Min.
Directed by Buster Keaton and Eddie Cline
Also presented in a digitally enhanced version.

THE LOVE NEST
1923 Color Tinted 20 Min.
Directed by Buster Keaton
Visual essay by David Kalat

REVIEWS

"Some of the finest silent comedies ever made...and they look better than I've ever seen them." - DVD Talk Collector Series

"This is a fan-fricken-tastic Blu Ray set from KINO...Don't pass this up!"- Aintitcoolnews.com

DVD Features

  • Newly mastered in HD from archival elements
  • Fourteen visual essays, illustrated with clips and stills, written by various Keaton experts
  • Digitally enhanced version of The “High Sign”
  • Digitally enhanced versions of The Boat and Cops
  • Brief alternate/deleted shots from The Balloonatic, The Blacksmith, Cops, Day Dreams, and The Goat
  • “The Men Who Would Be Buster,” a collection of clips from slapstick films influenced by Keaton’s work: Only Me (1929, with Lupino Lane), Be Reasonable (1921, excerpt, with Billy Bevan), Hello Baby! (1925, excerpt, with Charley Chase), White Wings (1923, excerpt, with Stan Laurel)
  • Digitally enhanced version of The Balloonatic
  • Four visual essays on the films’ locations by Silent Echoes author John Bengtson
  • “Character Studies” (ca. 1922), a gag film starring Carter DeHaven, with cameos by Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, and others
  • “Seeing Stars” (excerpts), a 1922 promotional film for First National, featuring cameos by Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and others

Blu-ray Features

  • Newly mastered in HD from archival elements
  • Fourteen visual essays, illustrated with clips and stills, written by various Keaton experts
  • Digitally enhanced version of The “High Sign”
  • Digitally enhanced versions of The Boat and Cops
  • Brief alternate/deleted shots from The Balloonatic, The Blacksmith, Cops, Day Dreams, and The Goat
  • “The Men Who Would Be Buster,” a collection of clips from slapstick films influenced by Keaton’s work: Only Me (1929, with Lupino Lane), Be Reasonable (1921, excerpt, with Billy Bevan), Hello Baby! (1925, excerpt, with Charley Chase), White Wings (1923, excerpt, with Stan Laurel)
  • Digitally enhanced version of The Balloonatic
  • Four visual essays on the films’ locations by Silent Echoes author John Bengtson
  • “Character Studies” (ca. 1922), a gag film starring Carter DeHaven, with cameos by Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, and others
  • “Seeing Stars” (excerpts), a 1922 promotional film for First National, featuring cameos by Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and others

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