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New Keaton releases by Kino

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MichiganJ
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New Keaton releases by Kino

Postby MichiganJ » April 21st, 2010, 7:41 am

Lost Keaton 1934-1937 (Buster's Educational shorts)
http://www.kino.com/video/item.php?film_id=1084

Steamboat Bill Jr. on Blu-Ray
http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Steamboat ... ray/10926/
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Re: New Keaton releases by Kino

Postby intothenitrate » May 6th, 2010, 5:21 am

Thanks for the heads up! There are a couple of those "Educational" titles in the big Kino box set. (Love that moniker). Those are the ones that teach you what not to do when you have dangerous-looking props and a couple of gag men hanging around...unless, of course, you spent your childhood getting thrown into the orchestra pit.
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Re: New Keaton releases by Kino

Postby charliechaplinfan » May 6th, 2010, 2:19 pm

Thanks MichiganJ, I love Keaton nearly as much as I do Chaplin.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: New Keaton releases by Kino

Postby MichiganJ » May 10th, 2010, 3:30 pm

Info on the pending release of Keaton's Steamboat Bill, Jr. on Blu-ray, including a complete alternate version of the film!

http://kino.com/video/item.php?film_id=1088
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Re: New Keaton releases by Kino

Postby MichiganJ » September 1st, 2010, 1:47 pm

Kino is releasing a double feature of Buster Keaton's Sherlock, Jr. and Three Ages on Blu-ray and standard 2-disc DVD on 11/16.
http://www.classicflix.com/kino-sherloc ... 0d20e3a95c

Not sure if it was mentioned here at Oasis, but on the same day Kino is also releasing the Complete Metropolis, again on Blu and standard DVD.
http://www.classicflix.com/kino-complet ... a-796.html

(And don't forget the trifecta for 11/16 is Criterion's release of Modern Times.)
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Re: New Keaton releases by Kino

Postby movieman1957 » September 2nd, 2010, 11:37 am

Christmas is coming.
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Re: New Keaton releases by Kino

Postby JackFavell » September 2nd, 2010, 3:57 pm

My daughter will be so happy - If Modern Times is out on Criterion, then TCM will probably be showing it soon. She asks me every month or so when they will be showing more Charlie Chaplin, and Modern Times is her favorite.

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Re: New Keaton releases by Kino

Postby Gary J. » September 13th, 2010, 2:21 pm

Here are my impressions of Kino's "Lost Keaton".

DISC 1

Keaton hits the ground running with his first Educational short The Gold Ghost – (1934). Escaping his rich lifestyle and the girl who has rejected him Buster drives to a deserted ghost town and spends a delightful first reel exploring the dilapidated burg as chairs, tables, floorboards and bar rails all disintegrate at his touch. Eventually character actor Warren Hymer appears and he and Buster break out the cards and spend a hilarious 30 seconds playing slap jacks in a cloud of dust. Allez Oop – (1934) continues the leisurely pace as Keaton explores one of his typical themes – love at first sight - even if his first sight of Dorothy looks distorted through his loupe. After losing her to a circus acrobat Buster sits down on a chariot only to be driven away but his ingenuity shows through when he rigs up his own high wire set in his backyard to practice on. (He shows similar cleverness when he creates a makeshift fire engine in Blue Blazes – (1936)) Many pratfalls follow.

A major change of pace occurs with his third release, the delightful Palooka From Paducah – (1935) is a hillbilly comedy (which were in vogue in the Thirties) but Keaton gives the storyline a twist by casting his entire Keaton clan in it (All except brother Harry – he didn’t like to work, did he?). The men folk all sport long beards while mother Myra is allowed her trademark pipe, which she smoked in real life. Family Patriarch Joe Keaton sounds rather shaky trying to deliver his dialogue but the Keaton’s act was never about talk. Pratfalls ensue as the family tries their hand at the wrestling game to earn some income and when a stick of dynamite is set off Louise bowls over Buster and is just as deadpan as her brother. In both here and their reprise in Love Nest On Wheels – (1937) Buster takes his mother’s hand and walks her off-screen near the end….a sweet and simplistic gesture in the Keaton tradition. He follows that short with a minimalists gem One Run Elmer – (1935) – a man, a rival, a rickety shack. This 2 reeler most recalls his silent shorts as even the ballgame is under cranked with calls from the umpire dubbed in. Visual gags abound as Buster’s lack of business out in the desert is emphasized by the deep hole his rocking chair sits in. A chalkboard is used when a price war breaks out with his rival until Buster inexplicably raises the number and then flips it upside down to reveal an even lower price. The baseball game itself is a series of black out gags involving exploding bats and balls that Tex Avery could have conceived except that newsreels of the day show that these are the exact gags that Keaton performed yearly for the annual Hollywood charity baseball games. For me his next short, Hayseed Romance – (1935), is an undiscovered minor classic. It plays like a prime Laurel & Hardy short with three strong sequences that naturally flow into each other. Buster answers an ad to work a farm as a potential husband. When he meets the comely blonde miss of the house his interest peaks but of course, she didn’t place the ad – that would be her behemoth of an aunt. After breaking more dishes than he washed Buster settles in for a quiet evening’s peace and contemplation only to be shattered by the Aunt’s thunderous recital on the organ that shakes the house like the San Andreas quaking. This is followed by a splendid slapstick episode as Buster attempts to sleep in the attic with a leaky roof on a rainy night. Needless to say both he and the aunt take a few headers through a two story hole and out into a mud hole. This short was a revelation for me as I was unaware of it previously and it showed that even with the time and money restrictions Keaton was able to turn out quality work that stood out with the best that was being done in the shorts comedy field at that time. It just drives home all the more how MGM squandered his talent.

Keaton’s winning streak continues with the service comedy Tars and Stripes – (1935). Filmed on location at the U.S. Naval Training Base in San Diego it plays as a breezy alternative to the service features being turned out by Warner Bros. at the time featuring Cagney and Powell. The storyline is a series of overlapping running gags as Buster bedevils his commanding officer played by Vernon Dent. The best gags are the variations of Buster constantly last in line for mess call. E-Flat Man – (1935) is episodic in nature, which Keaton used to good advantage for most of his silent shorts, and it works here as Buster and his girl elope only to believe they are wanted by the police. Keaton creates his own version of It Happened One Night – (1935) by sleeping in haystacks and munching on carrots. He even references the film while hitchhiking by saying “I saw a movie…” and then demonstrates to his girl by demurely raising the hem of her skirt about a fraction of an inch. Keaton’s leading ladies changed frequently in this series but the young actress in this film - a fetching lass by the name of Dorothea Kent - had appeared in the two previous shorts and showed good chemistry with Keaton. Here she gets treated as a typical Keaton leading lady by being buried alive in a haystack and falling onto the tracks while trying to ride a boxcar. For some inexplicable reason Keaton’s good rapport with director Charles Lamont was disrupted by bringing in Mack Sennett to helm The Timid Young Man – (1935). It’s a pleasant enough film but with over plotting that leaves Keaton little room to improvise – although he does get to fish using Mexican jumping beans and cavort in a lake with Tiny Sandford playing an atypical overly lecherous lout.

DISC 2

The interesting thing about these Educational shorts is how they play with different forms of comedy. Three On A Limb – (1936) falls into farce territory. Buster plays a scout leader, although we never see his troop. It’s mostly an excuse so everyone can make comments on his shorts. After falling for a carhop at a drive-in he tries to impress her folks with his abilities to start a fire with two sticks by setting fire to their rug. (HEY!! They asked to see it. What did they think was going to happen? ) These parents are real venal types who have each picked out their own prospective son-in-law without consulting their daughter. Eventually there is a minister with three suitors and a jilted girlfriend all fighting over the heroine and a good level of chaos is built up for the ending. The jewel of the series is the one short that Keaton took a writing credit on, Grand Slam Opera – (1936). From it’s opening satirical musical send-off (note the cowboy carrying a noose as he sees Buster off) to the linking film montages and the absurd ending Keaton is back playing with the conventions of film. His love of parody is evident in his send-up of Top Hat – (1935) and his own vaudeville talents are showcased with his dancing and juggling bits – not to mention carting out his broom swatting routine from his headlining days. All in all it’s one of the finest shorts made in the Thirties and this is the nicest print that I have ever seen it in. For many Blue Bazes – (1936) may seem like a letdown but while it’s no classic it is very funny with Keaton humor and sight gags galore; Buster opens a window letting in the deafening noise of the city but a running water faucet keeps him awake, he mistakes a radiator pipe for the fire pole and then hops aboard a departing fire truck to find himself standing alone on a bench. To top it off there is the running gag of Buster always disappearing while being reprimanded by his Captain by dropping through holes and falling out of windows. And for once there is no love interest. There is a love interest in The Chemist – (1936) as he plays a college professor who likes to invent things – such as a love powder, which doesn’t seem necessary since the girl he likes is already interested in him. He places the potion in chocolates and there are some priceless looks from Buster when a cleaning lady helps herself to the chocolates. Donald McBride appears as the leader of a gang of crooks who wants the professor’s noiseless explosive (“We can wage war quietly”) and it ends with a rare chase, although of the 3 Stooges variety where everyone runs up and down the same hallway.

The next three shorts are all rather run-of-the-mill but not terrible by any stretch of the imagination. Buster plays a magician’s assistant in Mixed Magic – (1936) and I don’t want to ruin anything but he ends up disrupting the act. Buster, of course, only signs on to be close to the girl in the act, which gives him ample excuses for not paying attention to the magician. Keaton must have sat through a lot of magic acts in his youth because he loves exposing their tricks in his films. The best trick is the beginning when he pulls some sleight of hand at a cafeteria and ends up with more of a meal than his ten cents can cover. Jail Bait – (1937) takes so long to set up its premise that there is little time for Keaton’s comedy to take flight but once he tries to get arrested and ends up in prison there is at least one reel worth of fun. Keaton’s view of prison life hasn’t changed much since Convict 13 – (1920). It’s still all hacksaws and files. There is fun during the prison escape as Buster dons a prison guard’s outfit only to be clubbed by passing cons so he changes back to his prison stripes just as the guards rush by and give him another beating. The next time we see him he is standing out in the open wearing both outfits on his front and back side and turning appropriately depending on who passes by. The wrap up is a model of efficiency as the gangster Buster has been tracking escapes the cops during a gun battle. Buster, unnoticed, follows him down his escape hole. The next shot is the gangster speeding away in his car along with Buster sitting casually on the back bumper. He rummages through the trunk and finds a wrench, then a larger wrench, and finally a humongous wrench. Fade to the police station where they’ve discovered the name of the fugitive and wonder aloud where he could be. Enter Buster dragging the unconscious crook saying “Right here.” Fade out. Don’t tell me Keaton wasn’t calling the shots on these films. Ditto – (1937) is situation comedy with a simple premise (as opposed to Jail Bait). Buster is an iceman who falls for the housewife he delivers to. She has a twin sister living next door. And they are both married…. What is interesting with this basic comic set up is that none of this is spelled out to us at the beginning. Buster meets the first girl (and delivers ice to her stove instead of the icebox) and then leaves. It is only then that the twin sisters meet. Buster returns and begins mistaking one for the other but then men begin appearing in each home and it takes a while for us to surmise they are the husbands while Buster keeps looking more bewildered.

Keaton goes out on a high note with his final Educational Love Nest on Wheels – (1937). Once again it’s a family affair as the Keaton clan descends onscreen in their hillbilly guise (minus the beards this time, and minus Joe although Harry is there to replace him. Maybe those two didn’t like working with each other?) To bring home the old times theme this is a remake of his buddy Arbuckle’s The Bellboy – (1918) and the material adapts well to sound. To round out the family reunion Keaton’s former co-star Al St. John returns and spends the entire time trying to pull a cow out of a trailer. The cast all moves as slow as molasses which makes the slapstick scenes all the funnier when they are propelled into action. There is a delicious moment during Buster’s mop fight with Bud Jamison when Bud draws Louise and then Harry into the fight and suddenly we have three Keatons all sprawled on the floor with their dead pans. To the casual viewer this may seem to be a low rent comedy but since Keaton always added biographical elements to his films I look upon this short with affection and find it a fitting swan song to his Educational series.

In my many years of movie watching I had only ended up seeing a little over half of the Keaton Educationals (…and I viewed most of them during my senior year when my high school played 35mm sound shorts during the noontime. I brought a lot of bag lunches back then.) so for me this set was a joy to discover Hayseed Romance, Blue Blazes and Palooka From Paducah among others. What I love about them is Keaton’s attempt at keeping alive visual humor in the sound era. It’s the reason Laurel & Hardy are so beloved by all. From here Keaton would move to the Columbia shorts dept. and after making the classic short The Pest from the West – (1939) he would begin to be doubled for his falls and subjected to the sledgehammer humor of Jules White. There would be moments of glory sprinkled throughout the next nine shorts but should we be satisfied with ‘moments’ from an artist of Keaton’s statue? I’m not. That’s why I will treasure this set and use it as an alternative to Keaton’s classic work from the silent years.

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Re: New Keaton releases by Kino

Postby moira finnie » September 13th, 2010, 4:14 pm

Hi Gary,
Welcome, and thanks for posting about this wonderful set of Buster Keaton films. Your vivid, detailed descriptions have made me request these films from my local library. I particularly liked your comments about Keaton's family members in his movies.

Btw, in One Run Elmer you can glimpse the former Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe as a second baseman. At the time when this was made Thorpe was trying to set up a Native-American Acting Guild to counteract the casting of ersatz Indians in so many Hollywood movies. Sadly, his effort met with only limited success, though Thorpe appeared in some 64 movies, (mostly uncredited).
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Re: New Keaton releases by Kino

Postby Gary J. » September 13th, 2010, 8:03 pm

Hi Moira,

It's not too surprising Keaton used Thorpe considering his love of sports and baseball in particular
but I think I remember reading once that they crossed paths while on the vaudeville stage. A lot of
athletes would trod the boards in their off seasons to make money. Maybe someone here knows
whether I'm remembering this correctly...

On a related note here is a video compilation of mine with Keaton and his fellow clowns performing
slapstick in the Talkie Era. It's an idea I wasn't able to put together until this collection of sound
shorts was released. Thanks Kino.

http://www.youtube.com/user/LowbrowProd ... YN1-_6zqSs

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Re: New Keaton releases by Kino

Postby moira finnie » September 14th, 2010, 9:58 am

Gary! Those were great clips. I laughed out loud at least three times.

I particularly loved the part with the Laurel and Hardy moments and the blind man, Mr. Merkel, coming through the front door of W.C. Fields' store in It's a Gift.
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Re: New Keaton releases by Kino

Postby JackFavell » September 14th, 2010, 10:22 am

Gary -

That was fantastic! I am assuming the large spinning man who goes buckety-buckety into the pool right at the middle point of the video is Billy Gilbert?

I also LOVED the song Heartaches used as background for your incredibly well edited series of ....well.... heartaches. Who's version was it?

I know it takes a huge amount of time and effort to put something like that together. Great job!

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Re: New Keaton releases by Kino

Postby moira finnie » September 14th, 2010, 10:34 am

Hey, guys! Check out the rest of Gary's videos. Am I correct in assuming that you are Lowbrow Studios, Gary?
I just subscribed to his channel on youtube. Haven't found a boring one yet. I think you are a talented guy with a real gift for making these gems. Thanks so much for sharing them on the SSO.

The Hollywood Overture one is a fantastic compilation for film fans using Alfred Newman's "Street Scene" music so creatively!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrWlE40VZDg[/youtube]
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Re: New Keaton releases by Kino

Postby JackFavell » September 14th, 2010, 11:13 am

Whoa! Another great video! Gary, you have a lot of talent.

This is my favorite (check out the great beginning and ending):

http://www.youtube.com/user/LowbrowProd ... IC94gEUuc8

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Re: New Keaton releases by Kino

Postby Gary J. » September 14th, 2010, 11:49 am

JackFavell wrote:Gary -

That was fantastic! I am assuming the large spinning man who goes buckety-buckety into the pool right at the middle point of the video is Billy Gilbert?
I also LOVED the song Heartaches used as background for your incredibly well edited series of ....well.... heartaches. Who's version was it?
I know it takes a huge amount of time and effort to put something like that together. Great job!


Jack,
You are correct. That was Gilbert. He appeared as the general supporting player in quite a few of the Pitts-Todd shorts.

I took both of Ted Weem's 1933 and 1938 version and mixed them together. I needed to elongate the tune plus I've run into copywrite problems before on that page and if you re-edit it they can't claim it is their version. I made a video called THE FIRST FLICKERS a while back that ended with a film compilation set to Garland's version of "Get Happy". The audio was immediately blocked because Warner Music was fighting with You Tube and they were making claims against all of their music, even though you can find "Get Happy" all over that channel. After those two corporate Goliaths kissed and made up I was able to get my video re-instated last year but suddenly out of the blue the audio has once again been disabled this week.

Tales from the cut-throat world of Internet video.

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