Buster’s Best

Musical accompaniment by Ben Model

Thursday, March 18, 2010, 1:30 p.m.

Theater 3 (The Celeste Bartos Theater), mezzanine, The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building

Includes the following films:

  • Steamboat Bill, Jr. (excerpt)

    1928. USA. Directed by Charles F. Reisner (and Buster Keaton, uncredited). With Keaton, Ernest Torrence, Tom Lewis, Marion Byron. Silent. Approx. 10 min.

  • The General

    1926. USA. Directed by Buster Keaton, Clyde Bruckman. With Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavender. Silent. Approx. 79 min.

Joseph Francis “Buster” Keaton (1895–1966) was, with the possible exception of Charles Chaplin, the greatest comic artist the movies ever produced. What is intriguing is that some of his best work—as in this program—is not conventionally funny. It requires a certain adjustment of intellect to fully appreciate that Buster’s most harrowing escapades, his narrow escapes from machinery and nature, produced with the most exquisitely precise timing, are not merely breathtaking; they also capture our human frailty in ways that are intrinsically laughable. Who else could make a brilliant comedy about the bloodiest war in American history? Who else could turn a destructive cyclone into a rollicking cinematic farce?

In the Film exhibition An Auteurist History of Film

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