Combustible Celluloid
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With: Buster Keaton, Lona Andre, Marlyn Stuart, etc.
Written by: Glen Lambert, Charles Lamont, David Freedman, Paul Girard Smith, etc.
Directed by: Charles Lamont, Mack Sennett, Raymond Kane, Al Christie
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 306
Date: 19/03/2013

Lost Keaton (2010)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Talking Buster

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Like many film buffs, I had assumed that Buster Keaton's career as a filmmaker simply died after he signed his disastrous contract with MGM and as the sound era came in. Now Kino has issued this remarkable two-disc DVD set containing a lost chapter in Keaton's career. After MGM, he went to work for Educational Pictures (a company that, oddly, did not make educational pictures), and for three years produced a series of brilliant two-reel comedy shorts.

They may not have the budget or scale of some of Keaton's earlier pictures, but they have the same spirit and the same genius. (Keaton was not credited as director, but it's clear that he's in charge.) For the sound era, Keaton managed to employ his deep, New York voice as part of the proceedings, but -- whenever possible -- simply told the stories visually.

The DVD collects all sixteen of the Educational shorts: The Gold Ghost (1934), Allez Oop (1934), Palooka from Paducah (1935), One Run Elmer (1935), Hayseed Romance (1935), Tars and Stripes (1935), The E-Flat Man (1935), The Timid Young Man (1935), Three on a Limb (1936), Grand Slam Opera (1936), Blue Blazes (1936), The Chemist (1936), Mixed Magic (1936), Jail Bait (1937), Ditto (1937), and Love Nest on Wheels (1937). Extras include a stills gallery, notes by David Macleod, and a montage of Buster's pratfalls.

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