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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 12:44 am 
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Location: Atlanta
Warner Archives already announced Doughboys, Sidewalks of New York, and What! No Beer? for November 8.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 12:50 am 
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The first two are range from okay to great, but that last one is fairly dire. The transfers if they're using the same are all excellent.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 12:50 pm 
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knives wrote:
The first two are range from okay to great, but that last one is fairly dire. The transfers if they're using the same are all excellent.


I wish I could agree with you, but there's no way I could endorse DOUGHBOYS as good Keaton. It might be one of his better films from the 30s, but the direction is poverty row terrible and Keaton himself is barely going through the motions (and possibly intoxicated during some of it). There's a few snappy lines of dialogue, but it takes forever for the film to go anywhere. Also, the print quality was very mediocre. I still have THE PASSIONATE PLUMBER and WHAT! NO BEER? to watch (I'm not holding out any hope for these), but so far I'd say that PARLOR, BEDROOM AND BATH strikes me as the most watchable from this period.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:52 pm 

Joined: Sat Jun 07, 2008 3:31 am
Location: Somerset, England
The only sequence I like in Doughboys is the Apache dance which would no doubt have been better executed in one of his silents under his own direction, but at least it feels in keeping with Keaton's hope that sound films could add something useful to his visual humour without dominating it. The typically leaden pacing of early talkies (esp. MGM's) kills the film as a whole for me, though.

David Kalat wrote a spirited defence of The Passionate Plumber which to some extent I agree with. I find it hard to get past Jimmy Durante but he isn't as annoying as in his other films with Buster. I hope I never have to sit through Speak Easily or What No Beer? again. Or indeed Free and Easy, which would've made a nice coaster from the Warner set if the same disc didn't also contain the Photoplay documentary! The other MGMs do have their moments, but I'd much rather watch almost any of the Educational shorts he made shortly after them.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 6:05 am 
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Speak Easily is toe-curlingly dire. My Sight & Sound capsule review was heavily truncated in the print version, but this is what I originally submitted:

Quote:
Made when relations between star and studio were visibly on the skids, this feeble MGM 'putting on a show' comedy wastes Buster Keaton as an effete academic who bumps into Jimmy Durante's ramshackle showbiz troupe and offers to fund their Broadway show with an inheritance that proves somewhat illusory. The climactic set-piece in which Keaton accidentally demolishes a live stage production has its moments, but it's largely recycled from the same director's Spite Marriage. It's hard to believe that the magisterial The General was made only five years earlier, and Speak Easily is a doubly depressing experience for those with prior knowledge of Keaton's deteriorating private life at the time of filming.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 12:23 pm 
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Jonathan S wrote:
David Kalat wrote a spirited defence of The Passionate Plumber which to some extent I agree with.

Having watched this last night, I agree as well. THE PASSIONATE PLUMBER struck me as a much better film than DOUGHBOYS. It was not a chore to sit through, the film never stayed in one place too long and Keaton seemed focused and intelligent.

Unfortunately, I then watched WHAT! NO BEER? and couldn't wait for the 70 minutes to be over with. It had a funny premise, but the material was very weak and Keaton was in such bad shape that his performance was painful to watch.


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 Post subject: Re: Re:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 9:00 pm 

Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 11:33 pm
Revelator wrote:
I've often wondered if the finale for the Marx Brothers' Go West was Buster's work, or at least featured some of his gags. The train/house gags with Harpo could not be more Keatonian. We know that Buster was involved with At the Circus (though to little avail--his ideas didn't suit the Brothers and there are hardly any memorable sight gags in the film), and in an early 70s interview Groucho did say that Keaton helped out with Go West. But Groucho's memory was obviously not at its best then, and the topic is still far from settled.

Just to return to this topic, I was recently reading Irving Brecher's memoir The Wicked Wit of the West. He has sole script credit on Go West, and talks briefly about the film. Besides noting that the train sequence was shot by the second unit, not Edward Buzzell, he also says "The special effects stuff was reminiscent of Buster Keaton, who was actually on the set working with Harpo. We shot in the San Fernando valley and that train...well, it took liberties." [Boldface mine]
This seems to clinch Keaton's involvement with the film. Unlike Groucho, Brecher remained mentally sharp up to the end, and his recall can be trusted. The next step would probably be to compare the shooting script to the film, but until I can locate the former, I'll maintain that many of the Keatonian gags in this Marx Brothers film were actually by Keaton.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:51 am 
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Completely coincidentally, I saw The General and Go West for the first time within a few days of each other - thankfully, in that order. Even if Keaton didn't directly contribute to the latter, its debt is glaringly obvious.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 10:24 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 18, 2007 11:16 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY, USA
Seven Chances on Blu and DVD from Kino on Dec 14th


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:01 pm 
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Announced on Kino's Facebook feed:

3/20 - LOST KEATON: SIXTEEN COMEDY SHORTS - 1934-1937 (2-disc Blu-ray) - features all 16 Educational Pictures shorts, 14 of which have never been available on DVD

That's exciting as heck, I assumed they would limit themselves to the remaining features at this point


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 9:46 pm 
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Wait, these were already released onto DVD last year, no?


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 10:21 pm 
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Yes.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 10:39 pm 
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justeleblanc wrote:

Haha, I guess they just copied and pasted the description from before. Still exciting to have it on blu, though.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 10:51 pm 
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Yep, because it means it will probably be part of that inevitable HD Keaton boxset they'll release someday. At the rate they're releasing the Keaton features, maybe next holidays.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:13 pm 
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Haha, I hope there's no exclusive features on that, because I've got every Keaton release they've put out so far. It's a really great product line, I'm impressed with how much effort Kino's putting into it.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 6:46 am 

Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 5:30 am
Location: journeys-italy.blogspot.com
Buster Keaton's first Italian film, L'incantevole nemica, has been released on DVD by RHV. The disc doesn't have subtitles, but Keaton's guest appearance are silent, so that's not a great problem. Here you can see his big scene.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:40 am 
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Saimo wrote:
...Here you can see his big scene.

Thanks for the link. I can't imagine that Keaton had anything to do with the direction of this scene as it's handled poorly from top-to-bottom. The discontinuity, along with terrible shot compositions and angles, does nothing to support Keaton's timing.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 12:53 pm 

Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 5:30 am
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According to an interview with director Claudio Gora, the scene was filmed with three cameras, but in my opinion the problem is that they have roughly inserted these mismatched closer shots...


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 1:16 pm 
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Saimo wrote:
According to an interview with director Claudio Gora, the scene was filmed with three cameras, but in my opinion the problem is that they have roughly inserted these mismatched closer shots...

The three camera shoot makes the scene resemble an old school television sit-com. You're right that the closer shots are mismatched. Also, Buster is clearly not standing by the closed door when the curtain rises but magically appears there two shots later. Had this scene been in one of Keaton's own films, he would have framed both himself, the long pizza peel and the dough in wide shot so the viewer could see the cause-and-effect (or lack thereof) without a cut. The closing gag showing Keaton propelled into the oven only works if the viewer can't quite determine where Keaton is aiming the peel. The angle chosen makes it all-too-clear that the dough on the peel will not be entering the oven.

Anyway, I'm probably being overly critical of the scene, but it makes for a good comparison to similar scenes in films that Keaton directed where he displayed an innate sense of framing and cutting for maximum laughs.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2013 5:47 pm 

Joined: Tue May 28, 2013 1:43 pm
I don't know if this information is available on these forums elsewhere, but I felt it belonged here for anyone looking for information on Buster Keaton releases (which is what led me here).

In addition to the Warner Archives releases of Doughboys, Sidewalks of New York, and What! No Beer? listed above, Warner Archives has also issued Hollywood Revue of 1929 and Buster Keaton at MGM Triple Feature which includes Parlor, Bedroom, and Bath, Speak Easily, and The Passionate Plumber. (One of the heftiest and most interesting single releases I've yet seen from the Archive Collection).

Furthermore, there seems to be no mention of Milestone's DVD of The Cook and Other Treasures (The Cook being the only Arbuckle/Keaton short missing from Image's collection) which also includes Arbuckle's A Reckless Romeo and Harold Lloyd's Number, Please? An old version of this DVD shows up as out of print on Amazon but an updated disc with new, classier coverart can be purchased directly from Milestone here: http://www.milestonefilms.com/products/the-cook-and-other-treasures

And lastly, and most excitingly, Milestone has also released Samuel Beckett's Film starring Buster Keaton currently only available as a $400.00 institutional purchase, but the website announces that a DVD and Blu-Ray will be released this year (2013) for private home viewing! Link: http://www.milestonefilms.com/products/film-by-samuel-beckett

UPDATE: Just got an email from Dennis Doros at Milestone and he said that the DVD and Blu-Ray releases of FILM has been pushed back to Fall 2014 (tentatively) because they are in the process of producing a feature length film on the making of the film.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2014 5:24 pm 

Joined: Tue May 28, 2013 1:43 pm
This is only, I'm sure, of minor interest even to the most devoted Keatonites, but the Warner Archive Collection has recently released a double feature of Keaton's Free and Easy (his first talkie) along with the first ever DVD release of the simultaneously shot alternate Spanish language version Estrellados.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 5:37 pm 

Joined: Wed May 05, 2010 11:06 pm
Does anybody else here have the Kino short films collections (1920-1923)? I have the blu-ray edition (released in 2011) and only today I had the chance to watch Hard Luck. Some title cards at the beginning explain some scenes have never been found, including the ending, which Keaton loved (we get some stills to give us an idea instead). And then there's a virtual essay about this short, which basically covers the troubled restoration and the sad fact relating to the missing footage.

A few minutes later I went to the short's IMDb message board and came across a thread, dating back to 2009, about the short being available in its entirety on youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ju1W21CF3Eg). I checked it and couldn't believe it. The blu-ray contains a short that's missing both the beginning and the end while the full version had been readily available for quite some time? I'm quite puzzled.

Had you guys noticed that before? Has Kino ever issued an explanation?


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 5:50 pm 
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The longer version is available in the MoC box set. But even from the YouTube link you can see the dramatic difference in quality of the ending scene with the rest of the film. The virtual essay on the Kino disc should perhaps have clarified that the scene does not survive in a form that is suitable for a HD restoration.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 6:12 pm 

Joined: Tue May 28, 2013 1:43 pm
felipe wrote:
Does anybody else here have the Kino short films collections (1920-1923)? I have the blu-ray edition (released in 2011) and only today I had the chance to watch Hard Luck. Some title cards at the beginning explain some scenes have never been found, including the ending, which Keaton loved (we get some stills to give us an idea instead). And then there's a virtual essay about this short, which basically covers the troubled restoration and the sad fact relating to the missing footage.

A few minutes later I went to the short's IMDb message board and came across a thread, dating back to 2009, about the short being available in its entirety on youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ju1W21CF3Eg). I checked it and couldn't believe it. The blu-ray contains a short that's missing both the beginning and the end while the full version had been readily available for quite some time? I'm quite puzzled.

Had you guys noticed that before? Has Kino ever issued an explanation?


Kino released the complete Hard Luck on their Kino Plus DVD (which is still in print and highly recommended; it makes a good companion to the blu-ray set). Kino actually lost the rights to work with the more complete prints which were owned by someone other than their primary source for Keatons between when they did the Keaton Plus SD-DVD and when they moved forward with their extensive Keaton HD upgrade project.

The ending is also very clearly animated. It has been speculated that this is from the B-roll and that the original A-roll negative included Keaton performing the stunt for real by diving into a hole covered by a small thin false floor made of wax. I would love to see that, but it's possible that the feat was too dangerous and it was always animated.


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 Post subject: Re: Buster Keaton on DVD
PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2014 11:25 pm 

Joined: Wed May 05, 2010 11:06 pm
Just to be clear, the beginning is also not present at the Kino blu. The short begins at about :53 (if you compare it to the youtube version), when the wealthy man is getting out of the car.

HitchcockLang wrote:
Kino released the complete Hard Luck on their Kino Plus DVD (which is still in print and highly recommended; it makes a good companion to the blu-ray set). Kino actually lost the rights to work with the more complete prints which were owned by someone other than their primary source for Keatons between when they did the Keaton Plus SD-DVD and when they moved forward with their extensive Keaton HD upgrade project.

It makes sense to know it was a rights issue. Still the message on the blu-ray is quite misleading and it states the short is incomplete because those scenes have never been found.


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