The Fall of Buster Keaton: His Films for MGM, Educational Pictures, and Columbia


Product Details

Scarecrow Press
Publish Date
5.9 X 8.8 X 0.7 inches | 0.85 pounds

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About the Author

James L. Neibaur is a film historian and educator, who has written hundreds of articles including over 40 essays in the Encyclopedia Britannica. He is the author of several books on film, including Arbuckle and Keaton: Their 14 Film Collaborations (2005) and Chaplin at Essanay: A Film Artist in Transition, 1915-1916 (2008).


With Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, stone-faced Buster Keaton ranked among the top silent film comic geniuses. The other two were astute businessmen who retained their fabulous wealth and reputations, while Keaton fell off the map in the early 1930s. He went on to make two-reel comedy shorts for Educational Pictures and then Columbia, films that he later dismissed as 'crummy.' Neibaur (Chaplin at Essanay: A Film Artist in Transition, 1915-1916) summarizes the plots and sometimes the critical reception of each, as well as the films Keaton made at M-G-M and those he appeared in until his death....The greatest value in this book is a reevaluation of the films' merits. Keaton's legions of fans will enjoy this book.
The Fall of Buster Keaton...marches in chronological order through Keaton's MGM and post-MGM performances, dutifully trying to find a trace of his old spark.
[A] key strength of Neibaur's books is that there are in-depth recaps of the MGM, Educational and Columbia films Keaton made. A plus for readers is that Neibaur debunks a common perception that the Educational and Columbia shorts were all artistic failures. In fact, the author serves to rehabilitate Keaton's talkie shorts' image by extolling the virtues of short films such as 'Allez Oop, ' 'One-Run Elmer, ' 'The Gold Ghost, ' 'Jail Bait, ' (Educational) and 'Pardon My Berth Marks, ' 'Pest From the West, ' 'Nothing But Pleasure, ' (Columbia) and a few others. The author makes a convincing case that Keaton needs to be re-evaluated as a talkie comedy shorts talent. ... We should appreciate the love that produces books of this dedicated scholarship.
For those interested in the body of Keaton's work in its entirety, The Fall of Buster Keaton is a good read that addresses parts of Keaton's career that many other books gloss over or completely ignore.