The Great Buster (2018) is an excellent documentary directed by Peter Bogdanovich that was released on Blu-ray and DVD on April 2,2019. It covers his life and work through film clips and interviews by artists that were influenced by him. The film clips are very comprehensive and cover not just his well-known shorts and features from the 1920s. There are numerous clips from later works even including commercials. The best part is the last section which focuses on his ten independently produced features.
The bonus features are the trailer and a poorly recorded appearance by Bogdanovich after a screening of the film.
My first experience with Keaton films was a great series run by the Carnegie Institute Film Section in Pittsburgh in 1972. For several weeks, they ran his features and shorts with live piano accompaniment.
Most of his independent films have been released on disc (some several times with upgrades by Kino Lorber. It sounds like the Cohen Media Group will upgrade and re-release the films again.
Where to start?
The General is his most highly regarded film and I would begin there. Of his other features, my favorites are Steamboat Bill, Jr. and Our Hospitality.
The General is set during the Civil War. Our Hospitality is based on the Hatfield-McCoy feud which seems like an unlikely basis for a comedy but Keaton finds humor there. Steamboat Bill, Jr. is one of Keaton’s funniest films and features amazing scenes in a hurricane.
For the short films, try Cops and One Week.
Cops is simple – mostly chase sequences of Buster being chased by the police. One Week is based on Buster building a house from a kit but his romantic rival has renumbered the boxes to sabotage him. The house turns out to be a wreck.
There are versions of many of his films on YouTube.
Before the Addams Family TV show from the 1960s and the Addams Family films from the 1990s, there were the cartoons by Charles Addams. They primarily appeared in the New Yorker.
Most of the characters from the TV show appear in the cartoons. Thing and Cousin It were not in the cartoons as far as I know but every other major character was in the cartoons. Addams also drew other cartoons that featured his sinister sense of humor. Books and prints are available. This is the link to the Tee and Charles Addams Foundation.
I was watching Creed II and saw Adrian Balboa’s grave marker. I wondered if it was really in a cemetery. It is! It’s in the really odd Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia which I visited on September 2, 2011. It’s got General Meade (Northern General who won Gettysburg) and confederate soldiers. It has a store which sells stuff like Death Mints. It has Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas’ grave and a museum-style collection of his memorabilia. You have to see the grave. It has Veterans Stadium seats (which you can still get from Archer Seating) and a giant microphone.
Here are my pictures and clips I found on YouTube.
The film was released 65 years ago today. Try to see it in 3D on Blu-ray or at events like Blobfest. I got to meet Ricou Browning at Blobfest several years ago – he played the creature when he was underwater.
Film director Stanley Donen passed away this week. He is best known for musicals he did with Gene Kelly such as Singing in the Rain but he also directed Charade, the last film I saw at Radio City Music Hall before we moved away from New York.