Hot news for us Buster Keaton fans.
A new, double-disc edition (also available as a single Blu-ray disc) of Keaton’s 1928 “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” presents both the familiar, public domain print that has been a staple of film societies and television screenings for decades, and an alternate version, newly discovered in the Keaton estate archive, that uses different takes or different angles for many shots and is cleaner and sharper than the standard print. (It was common in the silent era to produce two different negatives, one for domestic and one for export use; in this case, it isn’t clear which is which.)
…After “The General” (1926) and “College” (1927), “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” was Keaton’s third costly failure in a row, and would prove to be the last film he would make for his own independent production company. Audiences had turned their back on him (In The New York Times the reviewer Mordaunt Hall described “Steamboat Bill” as “a sorry affair”), just as Keaton had turned his back on them, quite literally, at times, given his penchant for shooting himself from behind. Keaton invited neither the audience’s identification, as Lloyd did, nor its sympathy, as Chaplin did. He presented a closed-off, self-sufficient figure, his emotions, if any, hidden behind his famous stone face.
Here is the most famous shot from the movie (no such thing a tough guy actor these days when you see this):
I can’t wait to get this new DVD…