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 Post subject: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 8:06 am 
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Since the international marketplace proliferates with Buster Keaton releases, I thought it would be useful to create a list of Keaton's work, and indicate where these can be found. In instances of multiple sources, it would be useful to have comments on which releases are the better ones.

The following is a list of credits for Buster Keaton. I have reproduced it from the booklet of mk2's Box Set of Keaton's silent features. I omitted the section that lists films in which Keaton made cameos, I did however include the (to me) puzzling listing of his "various appearances," since that list includes Railrodder/Buster Keaton Rides Again, which I know are starring vehicles for Keaton.

After the list of Keaton's films, I have started a list of DVD releases. The numbers next to each film in the Keaton list of films correspond to the number of the DVD release(s) on which the film can be found.

Please feel free to help by adding comments on availabiltiy of the various films, as well as assessments of quality. I will then update the list.

The Butcher Boy (Short, 1917) 1 8 12
The Rough House (Short, 1917) 1 9 12
His Wedding Night (Short, 1917) 1 12
Oh, Doctor (Short, 1917) 1 10 12
Coney Island (Short, 1917) 1 9 12
A Country Hero (Short, 1917)
Out West (Short, 1918) 1 8 12
The Bell Boy (Short, 1918) 1 8 12
Moonshine (Short, 1918) 1 8 12
Good Night, Nurse! (Short, 1918) 1 9 12
The Cook (Short, 1918) 1
Back Stage (Short, 1919) 1 2 9 12
The Hayseed (Short, 1919) 1 8 12
A Desert Hero (Short, 1919)
The Saphead (Feature, 1920) 3B 6
The Garage (Short, 1920) 1 9 10 12
One Week (Short, 1920) 1 2 3B 6
Convict 13 (Short, 1920) 1 3K 6
The Scarecrow (Short, 1920) 1 3F 6
Neighbors (Short, 1921) 1 2 3G 6
The Haunted House (Short, 1921) 1 3H 6
Hard Luck (Short, 1921) 1 3A 3J
The “High Sign” (Short, 1921) 1 2 3B
The Goat (Short, 1921) 1 3C 6
The Playhouse (Short, 1921) 1 3I 6 11 13
The Boat (Short, 1921) 1 2 3E 6 10 11
The Paleface (Short, 1922) 1 2 3F 6 11
Cops (Short, 1922) 1 2 3I 6 11
My Wife's Relations (Short, 1922) 1 3C 6
The Blacksmith (Short, 1922) 1 3J 6
The Frozen North (Short, 1922) 1 3H 6 11
The Electric House (Short, 1922) 1 2 3J 6 11
Day Dreams (Short, 1922) 1 3K 6
The Balloonatic (Short, 1923) 1 3G 6
The Love Nest (Short, 1923) 1 3E 6
Three Ages (Feature, 1923) 2 3C 6
Our Hospitality (Feature, 1923) 2 3D 6
Sherlock, Jr (Feature, 1924) 2 3D 6
The Navigator (Feature, 1924) 2 3E 6
Seven Chances (Feature, 1925) 2 3G 6
Go West (Feature, 1925) 2 3F 6
Battling Butler (Feature, 1926) 2 3H 6
The General (Feature, 1927) 2 3I 6 11
College (Feature, 1927) 2 3J 6 11
Steamboat Bill, Jr. (Feature, 1928) 2 3K 6
The Cameraman (Feature, 1928) 4
Spite Marriage (Feature, 1929) 4
The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (Feature, 1929)
Free and Easy (Feature, 1930) 4
Doughboys (Feature, 1930)
Parlor, Bedroom and Bath (Feature, 1931) -- 11 13 17 18 (and released as stand alone title by Alpha in the US)
Sidewalks of New York (Feature, 1931)
Wir schalten um auf Hollywood (Feature, 1931)
The Passionate Plumber (Feature, 1932)
Speak Easily (Feature, 1932) -- 16 18 (and released by Alpha in the US as stand alone title)
What, No Beer? (Feature, 1933)
The Gold Ghost (Short, 1934) 19
Allez Oop (Short, 1934) 3A 19
Le roi des Champs-Élysées (Feature, 1934)
Palooka From Paducah (Short, 1935) 16 19
One Run Elmer (Short, 1935) 14 19
Hayseed Romance (Short, 1935) 14 17 19
Tars And Stripes (Short, 1935) 15 19
The E-Flat man (Short, 1935) 19
The Timid Young Man (Short, 1935) 19
An Old Spanish Custom (Feature, 1936) 13
Three On A Limb (Short, 1936) 15 19
Grand Slam Opera (Short, 1936) 15 19
Blue Blazes (Short, 1936) 15 19
The Chemist (Short, 1936) 19
Mixed Magic (Short, 1936) 14 19
Jail Bait (Short, 1937) 3A 19
Ditto (Short, 1937) 19
Love Nest On Wheels (Short, 1937) 14 19
Life In Sometown U.S.A. ("Miniature" directed by Keaton for MGM, 1938))
Hollywood Handicap ("Miniature" directed by Keation for MGM, 1938)
Streamlined Swing ("Miniature" directed by Keaton for MGM, 1938)
Pest From The West (Short, 1939) 7
Mooching Through Georgia (Short, 1939) 7
Nothing But Pleasure (Short, 1940) 7
Pardon My Berth Marks (Short, 1940) 7
The Taming Of The Snood (Short, 1940) 7
The Spook Speaks (Short, 1940) 7
His Ex Marks The Spot (Short, 1940) 7
So You Won't Squawk (Short, 1941) 7
General Nuisance (Short, 1941) 7
She's Oil Mine (Short, 1941) 7
El Moderno Barba Azul (Feature, 1946)

Various Appearances
(in short films):

Screen Snapshots No. 3 (1922)
The Voice of Hollywood (1929)
The Stolen Jools (1931) Included on Retour le flamme 01 (Lobster Films, R2 FR)
Splash (1931)
La Fiesta de Santa Barbara (1935)
Sunkist Stars at Palm Springs (1936)
Un duel à mort (1950)
Screen Snapshots (1951)
Paradise For Buster (1952)
The Devil To Pay (1960) 13
The Home Owner (1961) 13
The Triumph Of Lester Snapwell (1963) 2 13
There's No Business Like No Business (1963)
The Fall Guy (1965)
The Railrodder (1965) 2 5
Film (1965) -- released by mk2 in France
Buster Keaton Rides Again (1965) 2 5
The Scribe (1966)

----------------------------------------------

1 Buster Keaton: The Complete Short Films 1917-1923 (Masters Of Cinema, R2 UK)
2 La Collection Buster Keaton (mk2, R2 FR)
3 The Art Of Buster Keaton Box Set: A Keaton Plus; B The Saphead; C The Three Ages; D Our Hospitality/Sherlock, Jr; E The Navigator; F Go West; G Seven Chances; H Battling Butler; I The General; J College; K Steamboat Bill, Jr (Kino, R1 US)
4 TCM Archives: The Buster Keaton Collection (Warner, R1 US)
5 Railrodder/Buster Keaton Rides Again (Image Entertainment, R1 US)
6 The Buster Keaton Chronicles: Six Disc Set (Network, R2 UK)
7 Buster Keaton 65th Anniversary Collection (Sony, R1 US)
8 Arbuckle & Keaton, Vol. 1 (Kino, R1 US)
9 Arbuckle & Keaton, Vol. 2 (Kino, R1 US)
10 Slapstick Encyclopedia, Vol. 4 (Kino, R1 US)
11 Buster Keaton: The Great Stoneface of Comedy (Brentwood, R1 US)
12 The Best Arbuckle Keaton Collection (Image, R1 US)
13 Industrial Strength Keaton (Laughsmith Ent./Mackinac Media, R1 US)
14 Buster Keaton at the Speed of Sound, Vol. 1 (Reelclassicdvd, R0 US)
15 Buster Keaton at the Speed of Sound, Vol. 2 (Reelclassicdvd, R0 US)
16 Palooka From Paducah/Speak Easily (Grapevine Video, R1 US)
17 Hayseed Romance/Parlor, Bedroom & Bath (Grapevine Video, R1 US)
18 Parlor, Bedroom & Bath/Speak Easily (Reelclassicdvd, R0 US)
19 Buster Keaton: Educational Two-Reelers, Vol. 1-6 (Looser Than Loose, R0 US)


Last edited by Scharphedin2 on Tue Jan 13, 2009 8:00 pm, edited 13 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 8:20 am 
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Kino has loads of Keaton besides the Keaton Plus disc - go here and scroll down to 'Buster Keaton' for individual links.

I reviewed all ten of their original DVDs for DVD Times, though with the major caveat that this was around seven years ago and at the time these were the only Keaton discs available. I suspect I'd be a lot tougher now.

Anyway, here are the links: The Saphead/Three Ages/Our Hospitality/Sherlock, Jr./The Navigator/Go West/Seven Chances/Battling Butler/The General/College/Steamboat Bill, Jr.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 9:23 am 
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I did not know you were the author Michael, but I read all of those reviews in the past :D

I will definitely incorporate the Kino releases; I just started the list with what I personally own.

Going through the mk2 set just now, I realised that it has the clip (on College) that Keaton did for the "Candid Camera" TV Show in 1959. I have been ready to sell several family members to see this again for years. Hilarious stuff and a great extra!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 9:54 am 
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There's another r2 set: The Buster Keaton Chronicles (Network, 2006). Across six disks it contains:

One Week
The Saphead
Convict 13
The Scarecrow
Neighbors
The Haunted House
The Goat
The Boat
The Playhouse
The Paleface
Cops
My Wife's Relations
The Blacksmith
The Frozen North
The Electric House
Day Dreams
The Balloonatic
The Love Nest
The Three Ages
Our Hospitality
(Thames Silent Version)
Sherlock Jr.
The Navigator
Seven Chances
Go West
Battling Butler
The General
(Thames Silent Version)
College
Steamboat Bill Jr.
The Great Stone Face


I've only watched The General and Our Hospitality so far, but the picture quality seems more than adequate to me.

George


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 10:25 am 
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How about this set: Buster Keaton 65th Anniversary Collection from Sony. It collects Keaton's shorts from the early '40s. Does anyone own this set and/or know the films included on it?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 4:53 pm 
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thankyou, this is very useful! :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 6:14 pm 
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Scharphedin2 wrote:
How about this set: Buster Keaton 65th Anniversary Collection from Sony. It collects Keaton's shorts from the early '40s. Does anyone own this set and/or know the films included on it?

There's some discussion of it here.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 6:56 pm 
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Thanks for the link dmkb, I had not seen that thread.

Anyone know anything about Laughsmith/Mackinac Media's Industrial Strength Keaton release? And, the Comedy Legend: Buster Keaton set from Koch Releasing? Information is scant on the sites that I looked at (don't tell me, there is probably a dedicated thread here on the forum...)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 7:01 pm 
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Scharphedin2 wrote:
Film (1965) -- released by mk2 in France (subs?)


Not needed. There's no dialogue.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 7:07 pm 
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denti alligator wrote:
Scharphedin2 wrote:
Film (1965) -- released by mk2 in France (subs?)


Not needed. There's no dialogue.


In actual fact, the film is totally silent, with the sole exception of a jokey "Ssssh!".

I managed the cinema that gave Film its belated first British commercial run in 1990, and it drove us up the wall - because there was no sound whatsoever (which is exceptionally unusual, as silent films would of course have music of some kind), everything that went on in the cinema from the sound of the projector to the staff chatting in the foyer could be clearly heard from within the auditorium. We couldn't do anything about the projector, but I had to request absolute silence from the staff while it was on - it was a supporting short, so fortunately this could be done in short 20-minute bursts, but they weren't exactly sorry when the three-week run finished.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 7:10 pm 
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Extras on the mk2 Film:

Quote:
Préface par François Nodelmann critique et écrivain (7')
Scènes coupées (21')
Autour de "Film" : commentaires (11')
Autour de "Film" : témognages (5')


Last edited by denti alligator on Wed Dec 27, 2006 7:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 7:17 pm 
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denti alligator wrote:
How can mk2 charge almost 30 Euro for a 25 minute film? I didn't see any sign of extras.


Because it's Samuel Beckett's only original work for the cinema, and therefore they can probably get away with it.

We scheduled it as a supporting short, but several critics decided to review it separately - and Philip French of the Observer even devoted the first third of his column to it, saying that it was far and away the most important film opening that week (even though it was 25 minutes long and playing on just one screen!)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 9:24 pm 

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There is a good Region 4 Boxset containing The General, The Three Ages, Steamboat Bill Jr. and College


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2006 5:01 pm 

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Solaris wrote:
There is a good Region 4 Boxset containing The General, The Three Ages, Steamboat Bill Jr. and College


Solaris, do you own this set? I've noticed that the General does not have all listed soundtracks, it only contains the Joe Hisaishi soundtrack twice.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2006 5:20 pm 
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Not correct. The R4 General also has the Robert Israel 1995 score.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 5:26 am 

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davidhare wrote:
Not correct. The R4 General also has the Robert Israel 1995 score.

There was a known problem with the first pressing of the General DVDs. The original pressing did not come with the Israel score. I was told (by madman) that they had rectified the problem (they also updated the artwork, see below). I've exchanged the DVD twice now, but I still do not have the Israel score.

The old DVD cover...
Image

The new DVD cover...
Image


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 8:49 pm 
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Ooops! I've just checked mine (old cover, had it for nearly two years) and sure enough it's the same score twice.

Are Madman replacing these discs? (Not that I'm overwhelmed with grief by this.)


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 9:37 pm 
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Thanks to everyone who has offered input on this thread.

I gather that noone is familiar with the Industrial Strength disc or Koch's release?

Further, I have been unable to find any releases that include the vast majority of Keaton's films from the thirties. Does anyone know of any releases anywhere in the world that features any of these films (aside from the Alpha and Brentwood discs already cited)?

And finally, is anyone expert enough on these Keaton releases to venture a stab at a recommendation for anyone wishing to acquire a complete as possible Keaton collection?

My bet would be MoC's set of the short films (I know there is a similar set out in France and possibly other countries, but I would think that the MoC set is the best deal at this point). Then for the silent features, the mk2 set would seem to be the best deal (it includes the Railrodder and Buster Rides Again films that are only available outside the Kino set, it also includes several other curiosities including The Triumph of Lester Snapwell). On the other hand, The Saphead (the very first feature that Keaton starred in, but which was not a comedy at all) is not included in the mk2 set, but is available in the Kino set (and as a separate title, of course). Moving on to Keaton's late silents and first sound film, there is the TCM release from Warner Brothers. With respect to the remaining films of the thirties, there really only are the two releases from Alpha available as far as I can tell. Sony collects the films of the early '40s in their 65th Anniversary release, and then for the hard core completists there is mk2's recent release of Becket's Film.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 2:28 am 

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davidhare wrote:
Are Madman replacing these discs?


Madman have said that they will replace the DVD (either returned to the store of purchase, or mail them the dvd) though it is of no real use if it does not have both soundtracks. I've sent Madman another email, but they won't be back in the office for another week or so. I'll get back to you then...


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 3:37 am 
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Don't forget Kevin Brownlow and David Gill's superb documentary Buster Keaton: A Hard Act To Follow, available in the UK on Network.

It's a no-frills disc, but the transfer is adequate (= no worse than the original 1980s broadcast), and should be available very cheaply - I paid £7.99 for it a month or so ago.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 4:29 am 
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Quote:
Madman have said that they will replace the DVD (either returned to the store of purchase, or mail them the dvd) though it is of no real use if it does not have both soundtracks. I've sent Madman another email, but they won't be back in the office for another week or so. I'll get back to you then...

Honey they're asleep at the wheel. Like a train crash waiting to happen.

"Lasciate ogni speranza" etc.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2007 8:27 am 

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Seeing how I started off 2007 by watching the MK2/Cinema Club edition of THE GENERAL (1927) followed by Samuel Beckett's FILM (1965) on VHS taped of Italian TV, I was curious to know whether it would be safe for me to sell off my Kino DVDs of THE GENERAL, THREE AGES (1923), COLLEGE (1927) and STEAMBOAT BILL JR. (1928) once I pick up the MK2/Cinema Club 3-Disc Set of the last three and Eureka/Masters Of Cinema's BUSTER KEATON: THE COMPLETE SHORT FILMS (1917-23). So, any takers?


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 27, 2007 12:05 am 

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Hi,

May a newcomer venture a few words? -- partly to say how much I (and, no doubt, many other non-posting readers around the world) value threads like this one, and partly in response to some of Scharpedin's queries.

First, the list of Keaton's various appearances should also include The Home Owner (1961)

This is a 23-min industrial film discovered in the late 1990s. It's very similar in length, genre, & quality to Lester Snapwell and The Scribe; any list that includes them should include it too. I'm sure the MK2 list compiler was simply unaware of its existence. (The title is often spelled The Homeowner, but The Home Owner is what the title card on the film itself reads.)

Industrial Strength Keaton collects the following films: The Playhouse, Parlor Bedroom & Bath, An Old Spanish Custom, The Devil to Pay, The Home Owner, and The Triumph of Lester Snapwell (plus assorted odds & ends, mainly TV commercials and guest appearances on TV shows). The set is reviewed , here and here, and some screencaps have been posted here.

As you can see, the set's picture quality is generally first-rate, though its audio quality is less so; in direct comparison with some other DVD releases, I find that the Industrial Strength Keaton has slightly fuzzier, woollier dialogue, plus occasional background rumbles or buzzes without any counterpart in other DVD transfers from exactly the same sources. I know this is a strain for some listeners in Parlor Bedroom & Bath (a very talky talkie, from a stage play) and An Old Spanish Custom; I know that other listeners aren't bothered by it at all. Most other items in the set are silent or near-silent and don't pose any such problems; in particular, there are no significant audio problems in The Home Owner and Lester Snapwell -- which would be the set's two biggest attractions for most collectors.

Two other small points about the Industrial Strength Keaton set. The feature films aren't divided into chapters, alas (I know that some Keatonians sometimes want to watch the last 10-15 mins of Parlor Bedroom & Bath without necessarily having to sit through the whole of the previous hour). Moreover, the set's compilers have misidentified Keaton's 1952 Ken Murray Show appearance as his 1957 You Asked For It appearance, and vice versa.

Other 1930s films? Well, eight of the Educational shorts are collected on two DVDs issued by Reelclassicdvd (www.reelclassicdvd.com), the company behind the recent 3DVD American Slapstick set. Volume 1 has One Run Elmer, Hayseed Romance, Mixed Magic, and Love Nest on Wheels; Volume 2 has Tars and Stripes, Three on a Limb, Grand Slam Opera, and Blue Blazes. (Note that there's no overlap with Kino's Keaton Plus disc, which offers Allez Oop and Jail Bait.) As always with Reelclassicdvd, these are careful, accurate, but unrestored transfers, so you mustn't expect them to look anything like as good as Kino's Allez Oop and Jail Bait (in fairness, I'm sure Kino chose those two precisely because exceptionally good source materials were available for them). The source prints are pretty good, but a few frames are missing here and there, as there are in all collections of the Educationals that I've seen in any format. The only significant loss is early in Hayseed Romance, where the Reelclassicdvd source lacks a few seconds of the hero's first encounter with his beloved, including the little joke about the Green house. A shame to lose anything at all, of course; but I imagine most viewers over the age of 6 would relinquish that particular witticism without too many regrets.

Grapevine Video (www.grapevinevideo.com) offers a DVD-R of Palooka from Paducah coupled with Speak Easily. Like all copies of Palooka from Paducah that I've seen, this is in poorish shape -- visually & aurally fuzzy, and significant chunks are missing. The transfer of Speak Easily is much more tolerable: absolutely complete, and reasonably clear both visually (though it's a little dark) & aurally (though there's a constant soft low-frequency background hum). I don't have the Alpha disc of Speak Easily, but I suspect the two would be rather similar in quality.

Another Grapevine DVD-R has Hayseed Romance plus Parlor Bedroom & Bath. I don't have this disc. No doubt its transfer of the former film isn't as clean as Reelclassicdvd's, and of the latter as Industrial Strength Keaton's; but it might be worth considering if you want its particular coupling.

If you search the internet you'll find a couple of small mail order companies that advertise complete DVD-R sets of Keaton's Educationals. From the information on their websites, it's clear that these have simply been copied from a widely circulated VHS collection; the results couldn't possibly match the Reelclassicdvd transfers, let alone those on Kino's Keaton Plus disc.

The Stolen Jools is on many DVDs of public domain Laurel & Hardy material. No doubt most of the transfers would be horrendous, and incomplete (the little bits of song from “Maurice Chandelierâ€


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 28, 2007 7:50 am 
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Welcome to the fourm (as a posting member) Goldfish, and thank you very much for all your excellent information, which served to plug quite a few holes in the Keaton's filmography on DVD. I have incorporated the releases mentioned in your post into the list at the top of the thread.

I remember having visited Reelclassicdvd's site a long time ago, but thinking it was your standard bootleg label. Not at all the case it would seem. They have a lot of really interesting films available.

Here's hoping that you will post again in the future.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 8:21 pm 

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On their home page, looserthanloose are advertising a complete 6-DVD-R set of Keaton's Educational Pictures shorts. Allez Oop is transfered from VHS (fortunately, that's already available in an excellent DVD transfer from Kino), but all the others are taken from 16mm prints. They're also advertising a DVD-R transfer of El Moderno Barbo Azul (the original Spanish-language film, not the English dubbing Boom in the Moon)... although without any subtitles.

I've never bought anything from Looserthanloose, but some of their products have received high praise from relatively fussy internet reviewers. Of course miracles shouldn't be expected: no doubt these DVDs will have the same blemishes (esp. in Palooka from Paducah) as all other transfers of the same films from public domain 16mm material. But at last all the Educationals are available on DVD in some form or other!

I'm afraid I'll have to buy this set, and will report back when I've seen how its transfer quality compares with Reelclassicdvd's.


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