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Buster Keaton - The Short Films Collection: 1920-1923

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Overview

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 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 ...
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DVD (Remastered / B&W)
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Overview

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 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 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).
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.
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 Electrical 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.
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Special Features

Newly mastered in HD from archival elements; 15 visual essays, illustrated with clips and stills, written by various Keaton experts, including Jack Dragga, Ken Gordon, David Kalat, Bruce Lawton, Steve Massa, Ben Model, David B. Pearson, R. Emmet Sweeney, and Patricia Eliot Tobias; a series of brief alternate-deleted shots from The Goat, The Blacksmith, Day Dreams and The Balloonatic, and an alternate title sequence from Cops; "The Men Who Would Be Buster," a collection of clips from slapstick films influenced by Keaton's work, including the complete film Only Me (1929, starring Lupino Lane, which is an elaboration upon The Playhouse), a lengthy excerpt of Be Reasonable (1921, starring Billy Bevan, an elaboration of the police chase from The Goat, and it may or may not have influenced Keaton back again, on Cops, which was released 3 months later); brief excerpts of White Wings (with Stan Laurel) and Oh Baby! (with Charley Chase); Eight-page booklet with an essay by Jeffrey Vance, author of "Buster Keaton Remembered"; Four visual essays on the films' locations by "Silent Echoes" author John Bengtson; Character Studies (ca. 1925) -- a gag film starring Carter DeHaven, with cameos by Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, and others; Seeing Stars (excerpts) -- a 1922 film featuring cameos by Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and others.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/12/2011
  • UPC: 738329075521
  • Source: Kino Video
  • Presentation: Remastered / B&W
  • Time: 5:28:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 17,900

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Buster Keaton
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Buster Keaton: The Short Films Collection 1920-1923
   Play All Films
   Select a Film
      The "High Sign" - Standard Version
      The "High Sign" - Digitally Enhanced Version
      One Week
      Convict 13
      The Scarecrow
      Neighbors
      The Haunted House
      Hard Luck
   Visual Essays
      The "High Sign" by R. Emmet Sweeney
      One Week by David B. Pearson
      The Scarecrow by Ken Gordon
      The Haunted House by Jack Dragga
      Hard Luck by Bruce Lawton
Disc #2 -- Buster Keaton: The Short Films Collection 1920-1923
   Play All Films
   Select a Film
      The Goat
      The Play House
      The Boat
      The Boat - Digitally Enhanced Version
      The Paleface
      Cops
      Cops - Digitally Enhanced Version
      My Wife's Relations
   Extras
      Visual Essays
         The Goat by David Kalat
         The Play House by Patricia Eliot Tobias
         The Paleface by Bret Wood
         Cops by Ben Model
         My Wife's Relations by Steve Massa
      "The Men Who Would Be Buster"
         Only Me (1929, Starring Lupino Lane)
         Be Reasonable (Excerpt, 1921, Starring Billy Bevan)
         Hello Baby! (Excerpt, 1925, Starring Charley Chase)
         White Wings (Excerpt, 1923, Starring Stan Laurel
      Out-takes
         The Balloonatic
         The Blacksmith
         Cops
         Day Dreams
         The Goat
Disc #3 -- Buster Keaton: The Short Films Collection 1920-1923
   Play All Films
   Select a Film
      The Blacksmith
      The Frozen North
      Day Dreams
      The Electric House
      The Balloonatic
      The Balloonatic - Digitally Enhanced Version
      The Love Nest
   Extras
      Visual Essays
         The Blacksmith by Bruce Lawton
         The Frozen North by Patricia Eliot Tobias
         Day Dreams by David B. Pearson
         The Love Nest by David Kalat
      "Silent Echoes"
         The Studio
         Hollywood
         Civic Center
         Round-Up
      "Character Studies"
      "Seeing Stars" (Excerpts)
      "Why They Call Him Buster" (Promotional Short for Lost Keaton)
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