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There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. His later films made after his heyday as one of the silent screen's greatest practitioners were hardly works of art, but they showed the aging comedian still very much in command of his unmatched pantomimic skills. Even his voice--with its flat, midwestern accent and whiskey-soaked gravel--seems to add to rather than take away from his image as a no-nonsense clown. Although he was less successful in middle-age than he would be in his youth or his dotage, Buster was always working--either behind or in front of the camera--making audiences laugh and generating revenue for his producers.
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These years of workmanlike productivity roughly have been minimized so often by film historians, that it's difficult to see them with any objectivity. It is easier and more rewarding to simply watch The General for the umpteenth time. It took some imagination, but James L.
Neibaur has made a fresh assessment of the late-silent and early-sound films that Buster made at MGM, the two-reelers that he starred in for Educational Pictures and Columbia Studios, as well as his last appearances in various independent productions. With the same sense of methodical organization that he used to assess Charlie Chaplin's early work in Chaplin at Essanay and Buster's apprenticeship with the amazing Roscoe Arbuckle in Arbuckle and Keaton: Their 14 Film Collaborations , Mr.
Neibaur carefully examines each of Buster's later works, be they good, bad or indifferent. What prevents this from becoming an exercise in tedium is the author's thoughtful insights and efficient storytelling.
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It was, in fact, a pleasure to read, from start to finish. I want to see if some of them hold up as well as Mr.
Neibaur claims they do. Something tells me they will.
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He lost creative control of his projects, battled with alcoholism and saw his marriage dissolve. After the heights of the s; the s through to the 50s saw his talent wasted on lesser films that didn't utilize his visual style or unique ideas. For anyone interested in Keaton's work during this period, Neibaur's book is an essential read.
Keaton kept acting and creating and left behind a solid body of work. This book does exceptionally well to assess those film projects and discuss them intelligently and within a sensible critical perspective. It's an enjoyable read even if you haven't seen the films discussed and includes sections on Keaton's TV work, his advertisements and training films.
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Right up to the 60s and the high profile cameos and support roles that saw him through to his final days in It certainly made me want to seek those films out, even if they aren't his best. Sadly the book is missing the one thing that I need - a comprehensive filmography.
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