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With: Buster Keaton, Anne Cornwall, Harold Goodwin, Flora Bramley, Snitz Edwards, Florence Turner
Written by: Bryan Foy, Carl Harbaugh
Directed by: James W. Horne, Buster Keaton
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 64
Date: 09/10/1927

College (1927)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Athlete's Feet

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

After the failure of his masterpiece The General (1927), Buster Keaton went back to less risky material with College (1927), subsequently one of his minor efforts.

Buster plays a smart, bookish student with a disdain for athletics. But his girl (Anne Cornwall) prefers athletes, so he heads to Clayton to try and impress her. He tries out for several teams including track and baseball, and fails miserably at them. But to afford Clayton, he must also work, and his attempts at being a soda jerk and a waiter (disturbingly, in blackface) likewise fail. Finally, the dean wants to know what's going on, sympathizes with Buster's plight, and makes him the coxswain of the school rowing team, where Buster's inner hero finally comes out.

The best moments are in the athletic sequences, though nothing here is quite as sublime as his solo baseball game in The Cameraman (1928). Likewise, Harold Lloyd had already explored this material in an earlier film, The Freshman (1925). Yet Keaton finds some great moments here and there, and creates a perfectly watchable comedy, not at a level with his best, but certainly at a level with anyone else's best.

Kino completes its high-definition restoration of the (near) complete Buster Keaton canon with this release, in both DVD and Blu-ray. Extras include a commentary track by scholar Rob Farr, a video essay on the film's locations, and Buster's final filmed performance in a 1966 industrial film, "The Scribe."

In 2017, Kino-Lorber re-released College on Blu-ray in a new 2K digital restoration, and in a "double-feature" package with the great Steamboat Bill, Jr.. Unlike their other 2017 releases, this one preserves almost all the bonuses and extra content from the prior Blu-ray release. It includes a score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, an organ score by John Muri, a commentary track by scholar Rob Farr, a tour of the filming locations by author John Bengston, introductions by Serge Bromberg and Lillian Gish, a 1928 short comedy with Carole Lombard, and a 1966 short believed by be Keaton's final screen performance.

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