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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 4:12 am 

Joined: Sat Jun 07, 2008 3:31 am
Location: Somerset, England
The issue of the extant footage excluded from Kino's blu-ray release was discussed three years ago and the problem is not limited to Hard Luck.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2014 2:33 pm 

Joined: Wed May 05, 2010 11:06 pm
Jonathan S wrote:
The issue of the extant footage excluded from Kino's blu-ray release was discussed three years ago and the problem is not limited to Hard Luck.

Thank you. I looked for posts about it here on the Keaton thread and found none, but didn't really think about looking it up in the Kino thread.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 8:29 am 
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The Blu-ray version title cards are the same ones used when KINO released the film in the 90s prior to the discovery of the complete version of HARD LUCK. I imagine KINO thought it preferable to keep the cards the same instead of revising them to say something like..."A more complete version of HARD LUCK was discovered after we initially released this short on home video. We were able to license that version for a short time, but no longer have the rights to it, so you're stuck with an earlier, inferior edit."

As to the possibility of Keaton doing that stunt: there's no way anyone would have dived headfirst into a hole in the ground from that height without some kind of special effect being used.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 8:42 am 

Joined: Tue May 28, 2013 1:43 pm
Roger Ryan wrote:
As to the possibility of Keaton doing that stunt: there's no way anyone would have dived headfirst into a hole in the ground from that height without some kind of special effect being used.


Normally I'd agree with you. But this is Buster Freaking Keaton we're talking about here. The man was nuts!


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 9:01 am 
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HitchcockLang wrote:
Roger Ryan wrote:
As to the possibility of Keaton doing that stunt: there's no way anyone would have dived headfirst into a hole in the ground from that height without some kind of special effect being used.


Normally I'd agree with you. But this is Buster Freaking Keaton we're talking about here. The man was nuts!

I was also going to note that the animation would have required some time and money to do, so I don't think they would have bothered if they got a usable take of Keaton doing the stunt for real. Are people suggesting the animation was done more recently as a way of reconstructing the final scene? The effect seems like vintage early 20s to me.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 2:04 pm 

Joined: Tue May 28, 2013 1:43 pm
Roger Ryan wrote:
HitchcockLang wrote:
Roger Ryan wrote:
As to the possibility of Keaton doing that stunt: there's no way anyone would have dived headfirst into a hole in the ground from that height without some kind of special effect being used.


Normally I'd agree with you. But this is Buster Freaking Keaton we're talking about here. The man was nuts!

I was also going to note that the animation would have required some time and money to do, so I don't think they would have bothered if they got a usable take of Keaton doing the stunt for real. Are people suggesting the animation was done more recently as a way of reconstructing the final scene? The effect seems like vintage early 20s to me.


No not at all. The suggestion has been made that the animation was used only with the B-camera footage for foreign distribution while the alleged take of the real stunt was used with the A-camera footage for domestic distribution. Using two separate takes to make two negatives simultaneously for domestic and foreign distribution was a common practice in the silent film industry (this is why you get the alternate complete versions of Steamboat Bill Jr, Our Hospitality, etc.). The legend is that he was able to do the stunt for A-roll but it was so dangerous that he opted not to repeat it so the stunt was animated for the foreign distribution negative. Let me see if I can russell up a source.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 2:53 pm 
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Right, I'm familiar with the practice of using multiple cameras to have more than one negative to use for both domestic and foreign distribution, but Keaton would have had both cameras rolling at the same time if he was attempting such a dangerous stunt. I think fans get a little hung up on Keaton doing every stunt himself. There's nothing wrong with a little camera trickery or using a professional stunt person (as Keaton did for one shot in COLLEGE) to achieve the desired effect; that's part of the filmmaking craft. As it is, Keaton continued to do some spectacular stunts throughout his career - I'm still amazed by the leap from a moving car the 64-year-old Keaton does in his TWILIGHT ZONE episode.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 7:41 pm 

Joined: Tue May 28, 2013 1:43 pm
Roger Ryan wrote:
Right, I'm familiar with the practice of using multiple cameras to have more than one negative to use for both domestic and foreign distribution, but Keaton would have had both cameras rolling at the same time if he was attempting such a dangerous stunt. I think fans get a little hung up on Keaton doing every stunt himself. There's nothing wrong with a little camera trickery or using a professional stunt person (as Keaton did for one shot in COLLEGE) to achieve the desired effect; that's part of the filmmaking craft. As it is, Keaton continued to do some spectacular stunts throughout his career - I'm still amazed by the leap from a moving car the 64-year-old Keaton does in his TWILIGHT ZONE episode.


Sometimes the cameras were run simultaneously (Melies, I believe, was the first to do that) but most alternate versions of Keaton's films appear to be alternate performances. Maybe he only had access to one camera? Maybe he wanted to get the desired angle for both negatives? I don't know.

What it boils down to is: I'm not saying he definitely DID do the stunt; I'm just saying that it's an interesting and uncertain piece of Keatonlore.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 7:58 am 
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Sure, I don't wish to belabor the point. I have no idea whether Keaton was shooting with two cameras or only one in 1921. Certainly, what we see from the two extant versions of STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. shot seven years later is that different takes are used for each negative for much of the film, but most of the big stunt/effect shots during the hurricane sequence (i.e. the house facade falling around Keaton) appear to be covered by two cameras rolling simultaneously.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 11:48 am 

Joined: Tue May 28, 2013 1:43 pm
Good point. I never noticed that about the stunts in Steamboat Bill (but then, I'm not one to really study alternate versions of silent films--maybe I should!).

You're probably right, but there is a little part of me that wants to believe Buster dove through a false floor.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 1:27 pm 

Joined: Wed May 05, 2010 11:06 pm
Roger Ryan wrote:
The Blu-ray version title cards are the same ones used when KINO released the film in the 90s prior to the discovery of the complete version of HARD LUCK. I imagine KINO thought it preferable to keep the cards the same instead of revising them to say something like..."A more complete version of HARD LUCK was discovered after we initially released this short on home video. We were able to license that version for a short time, but no longer have the rights to it, so you're stuck with an earlier, inferior edit."

But on the virtual essay they also mention the missing scenes had never been found. I assume the essays were made for this release, right?

Roger Ryan wrote:
As to the possibility of Keaton doing that stunt: there's no way anyone would have dived headfirst into a hole in the ground from that height without some kind of special effect being used.

They also mention on the essay that Buster did the diving stunt himself and that he would always mention it proudly. I don't know how reliable that is, though.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 2:30 pm 
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felipe wrote:
...They also mention on the essay that Buster did the diving stunt himself and that he would always mention it proudly. I don't know how reliable that is, though.

I should have just gone back and looked at the film first before relying on memory to discuss this stunt. Having now reviewed it, I believe Keaton is, in fact, doing the dive himself. Half of the pool appears to be covered with a thin tarp (or breakaway wax), not just a hole. The film cuts just as Keaton impacts the surface and, if you look closely, you can just begin to see some water being displaced. Keaton sets up this illusion quite well in a previous shot by having the young women run across what the viewer believes is this poolside section (presumably shot at the actual far edge of the pool that is beyond the left side of the frame in the wide shot showing the dive). In reality, no one would build a diving board that high if the edge of the pool was that close to it.

I also don't believe there is any animation involved, just a couple missing frames that give the impression that the action has been toyed with. What I was incredulous about was the idea that Keaton would dive into a small hole from that height. Instead, it appears that he had half a pool to dive into, making the stunt much less risky. The result is a masterful bit of sleight-of-hand that has us wondering how he did, or didn't, do it nearly a century later!

EDIT: I should have also realized that the inimitable John Bengtson already addressed this stunt here. Mr. Bengtson proposes that the dive was done using animated stills due the unusual trajectory of Keaton's body, but I don't think the trajectory is that unusual. At any rate, we know for a fact that some kind of covering was placed over the bottom portion of the "T"-shaped pool (and I believe that one young woman was placed on the left side of this section to help sell the illusion that it was all solid brick-and-mortar). I say Keaton dived into the "covering"!


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 7:47 am 

Joined: Tue May 28, 2013 1:43 pm
That's mea culpa for describing it as a "hole." Covering a larger portion of the pool does make more sense. It's reassuring to hear you believe Buster did it now! Just yesterday you had me questioning it.

I still think it looks animated. I've studied that shot a lot, freezed the frame in various places, rewound and rewatched: there's a moment when I swear I can see Buster's body poised to dive (very dark and clear) swapped out for a grayer and hazier figure which sure looks animated to me. If Buster did do the dive (which I'd like to think he did--and he certainly did some ballsy stuff in his career), I don't think the current version available on home video shows that dive.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 8:05 am 
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HitchcockLang wrote:
...I still think it looks animated...

I went through the shot frame-by-frame myself last night and there does seem to be some kind of manipulation - it's almost like Keaton did the dive earlier and his image was crudely superimposed (and shifted left slightly) to have him "land" at the right spot. Assessing this shot is very difficult since we're looking at a compressed, interlaced DVD image of duped footage in fairly bad shape. One thing I found is that you can see that the false poolside section they built over the bottom half of the real pool has begun to disintegrate when they shot the scene of Keaton climbing out of the pool earlier in the film - water can be seen splashing up through a hole in the material. Logically, the false section allowed a large "hole in the ground" to be created much easier than if they had to actually dig a proper hole near a pool. Keaton chose to set the final shot far enough into the future that the country club has been abandoned and the pool drained; otherwise, the hole would have been filled with water.

felipe wrote:
...But on the virtual essay they also mention the missing scenes had never been found. I assume the essays were made for this release, right?

This is not quite accurate. The visual essay acknowledges that additional footage had been found after the initial Brownlow/Gill reconstruction, including the final shot, but notes that there is still some footage missing from the beginning of the short which would have explained why Keaton's character was suicidal. Since the short is already 22 minutes long, there probably isn't much more than a minute or two that is missing. The visual essay can be confusing if you don't have prior knowledge of Kino losing the rights to the more complete version since Bruce Lawton discusses footage that Kino couldn't show.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2016 8:24 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 01, 2016 8:18 pm
Hi, I'd like to start collecting Buster Keaton's best movies on dvd. Does anyone know the best quality DVDs out there? I have seen 8 DVDs for sale on amazon, volume 1 to 5 made by Stonevision in 2001, and vol. 6 to 8 by Quantum leap in 2005. Does anyone have these? What is the picture and sound quality of these like? Or is there a better alternative? Thanks, Rich.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 6:36 pm 
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richie wrote:
Hi, I'd like to start collecting Buster Keaton's best movies on dvd. Does anyone know the best quality DVDs out there? I have seen 8 DVDs for sale on amazon, volume 1 to 5 made by Stonevision in 2001, and vol. 6 to 8 by Quantum leap in 2005. Does anyone have these? What is the picture and sound quality of these like? Or is there a better alternative? Thanks, Rich.

First, avoid Stonevision. It's probably public domain, poor quality, material - like their Chaplin offerings from the same date (which I unfortunately wasted money on). I've never heard of Quantum Leap, so personally I'd avoid them too!

Secondly, check out the various Keaton reviews. There are lots of "collections", and this link will point you in the right direction (although it may not be a comprehensive list):.
http://www.dvd-basen.dk/uk/home.php3?se ... nd=z&ok=go

You can, of course, search the same site for individual films.

These are the Keatons I own; unavoidable duplication with the short films! I'm happy with all of them. The blu-ray set is excellent.

Zone A/B/C Kino - Buster Keaton Collection (aka Ultimate) (14 Blu-rays)
(The Short Films; The Saphead; Three Ages; Our Hospitality; Sherlock Jr.; The Navigator; Seven Chances; Go West; Battling Butler; The General; College; Steamboat Bill, Jr.; Lost Keaton). Contents also available separately.
http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/The-Buste ... 28/#Review

R1/3/4 Sony Pictures - Buster Keaton Collection (2 DVDs)
(10 short films and a documentary)

R1 Warner Bros - TCM Archives: Buster Keaton Collection (2 DVDs)
(The Cameraman; Spite Marriage; Free and Easy; and the documentary So Funny It Hurt: Buster Keaton and MGM.

R0 Eureka Video (Masters of Cinema) - Buster Keaton: The Complete Short Films (4 DVDs)
(32 short films)


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 6:41 pm 
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I own the exact same editions. Everyone should.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:09 pm 
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I'm torn between wanting the Kino set now, and wanting to wait for the Cineteca Di Bologna restorations that just started.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:45 pm 
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Location: Atlanta
For his worst, there is

R0 DVD-R Warner Archive - Buster Keaton Double Feature
(Free and Easy; Estrellados (Spanish version of Free and Easy)

R0 DVD-R Warner Archive - Buster Keaton at MGM Triple Feature
(Parlor, Bedroom and Bath; Speak Easily; The Passionate Plumber)

R0 DVD-R Warner Archive - Doughboys, Sidewalks of New York, What - No Beer? - separate releases.

Warner also owns foreign language versions of other MGM films -
De frente, marchen - French version of Doughboys
Casanova wider Willen - German version of Parlor, Bedroom and Bath
Buster se marie - French version of Parlor, Bedroom and Bath
Le plombier amoureux - French version of The Passionate Plumber


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:09 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 01, 2016 8:18 pm
Many thanks for the replies! I'll avoid the Stonevision DVDs then. I must admit the covers looked very cheap! The Eureka box set with the complete set of shorts looks a must have though! Not cheap on amazon, but I'd rather have good quality. I've been caught out before with a couple of unwatchable Cary Grant public domain films that I had to dispose of. Thanks everyone, Rich.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 4:29 pm 
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If you want the Eureka/Masters of Cinema set, it's £25.99 direct from Eureka.
https://www.eurekavideo.co.uk/moc/buste ... -1917-1923


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 2:54 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 01, 2016 8:18 pm
Patricia from the Buster Keaton Society emailed me with this news.

...though there are two groups working in Europe on new restorations to come out in 2017, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Buster's entry into movies.

Does anyone know anything about this? Will they be a complete collection of his shorts I wonder? Thanks for the info about the Eureka site. I'll look into that. Rich.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 11:22 pm 
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I think Cohen already announced that they were working on restorations of Buster Keaton films.

Steamboat Bill, Jr. 4K restoration page
The General 4K restoration page
Sherlock Jr. 4K restoration page

just click on Buster Keaton's name in the cast list to see all titles they currently own (including 17 shorts)


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2016 4:41 am 

Joined: Sat Jun 07, 2008 3:31 am
Location: Somerset, England
richie wrote:
Patricia from the Buster Keaton Society emailed me with this news.

...though there are two groups working in Europe on new restorations to come out in 2017, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Buster's entry into movies.

Does anyone know anything about this?

There's a long thread here which conveys something of the rivalry and apparent hostility between the two groups (that has already led to surviving material being excluded from previous releases). In this thread, Tim Lanza (of Cohen) and Cecilia Cenciarelli (of Cineteca Bologna) explain their project, while David Shepard defends Lobster's.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2016 7:11 am 
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Last summer or thereabouts Cohen said within a couple of years they will release The General (4K) on bluray. With 2017 being an anniversary year of sorts for Keaton, that's when we should see lots of Keaton hit the markets and probably touring as well.


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