Saturday, November 12, 2011

Steamboat Bill Jr. - 1928

Country: USA
Language: English
Director: Charles Reisner (as Chas. F. Reisner); Buster Keaton (uncredited)
Writer: Carl Harbaugh (story), Carl Harbaugh scenario (uncredited), Carl Harbaugh titles (uncredited).
Stars: Buster Keaton, Tom McGuire and Ernest Torrence
Release Date: 20 May 1928 (USA)
Genres: Action | Comedy | Drama | Family | Romance
Plot Keywords: Captain | River | Riverboat | Rescue | Banker | Hurricane | Jail |
Ventriloquist Dummy | Rock Through Window | Father Daughter Relationship | Hospital
Actor Performing Own Stunts | Carnation | First Mate | Rainstorm | Bed | Forbidden Love | Ukulele | Chewing Tobacco | Minister | Black Stereotype | Beret | Umbrella |
Hat | Class Differences | Pratfall | Father Son Relationship | Rivalry | Male Female Relationship | Fight | Falling Building | Small Town | Haberdasher | Boat Pilot | Key | Family Relationships | Father Son Reunion | Jailbreak | Window Smashing | Singing | Bread | Barbershop | Slapstick Comedy | Shaving | Life Preserver | Barn | Sheriff | Railway Station | Physical Comedy | Tree | Public Domain | Pram | Sight Gag | Character Name In Title
Also known as: Wasser hat keine Balken Austria / West Germany (TV title); Apofoitos kollegiou Greece (transliterated ISO-LATIN-1 title); Armastus ei tunne piiri Estonia; Az ifjabb gőzös Hungary; Buster Keaton - Dampfer-Willis Sohn Germany (alternative title); Cadet d'eau douce France; El héroe del río Spain; El loco Bill Argentina; Hans son på galejan Sweden; Io... e il ciclone Italy; L'heroi del riu Spain (Catalan title); Laivakalle nuorempi Finland; Marynarz slodkich wód Poland; O Marinheiro de Água Doce Portugal; Stürmische Zeiten West Germany (TV title); Wasser hat Balken Germany.
Filming locations: Sacramento River, California, USA; Sacramento, California, USA
Production Co: Buster Keaton Productions, Joseph M. Schenck Productions
Runtime: 70 min
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
The stunt where the wall falls on Buster Keaton was performed with an actual full-weight wall. Half the crew walked off the set rather than participate in a stunt that would have killed Keaton if he had been slightly off position. Keaton himself, told the previous day that his studio was being shut down, was so devastated that he didn't care if the wall crushed him or not.
The hat that Buster Keaton quickly removes from his head and hands back to the clerk with a frown is Keaton's own trademark porkpie hat.
The movie was originally meant to incorporate a large flood as the disaster that hits the town. However, due to a real Mississippi flood and bickering amongst the producers, the flood plot was changed to a "cyclone."
This movie was used as a model for Steamboat Willie, Mickey Mouse's first cartoon with sound.
During the hurricane sequence, there is a scene that pays homage to Buster Keaton's childhood on the vaudeville stage. One brief moment has a table move in the wind, apparently animating the dummy and turning its head to face Keaton. Keaton is startled and runs. This is based on a real experience from when he was a kid and became fascinated with a dummy named Red Top, who belonged to ventriloquist Trovollo. The young Keaton had a "conversation" with the dummy and conspired to kidnap his new friend one night when the theater was empty. Trovollo, anticipating Keaton, slipped to his props offstage and when Keaton approached, brought Red Top to life, scaring Keaton out of the theater.
This and The General are generally considered by critics to be Buster Keaton's last great films. Shortly after these two were made, the independent-minded Keaton made the mistake of signing a contract with MGM, whose regimented ways clashed with his scrupulous perfectionism. Five years after MGM hired him, it dropped his contract and Keaton drifted into obscurity, complicated by a severe drinking problem, from which he didn't emerge for many years.
Marion Byron could not swim, so the scenes where her character is in the river with Buster Keaton were filmed with Buster's real-life sister Louise Keaton serving as Marion's stunt double. The two were both the same size - 4'11". The water was very cold and during a day of filming Buster and Louise consumed 4-5 glasses of French brandy to keep them warm.
For reasons unknown, Buster Keaton did not receive a directing credit, although all involved in the film concur that he co-directed the film.
Included among the '1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die', edited by Steven Jay Schneider.
Crew or equipment visible: Just before the house facade falls on Keaton, a stagehand can be seen through the first floor window giving it an extra push.
Revealing mistakes: During the final cyclone sequence, a cable pulling down the entire front of a building is clearly visible.
For the first time since he was a baby, an effete Buster Keaton comes home from Boston to visit his steamboat captain father, who's being troubled by the head of the other, finer steamboat, J.J. King. Of course King's daughter is home to visit her father, too! This completely delightful comedy glides right along, with outstanding physical comedy from Keaton. The lightness of the film is a benefit, as is the short 70m running time. There's no shortage of brilliant gags, my favorite being Keaton trying to get his jailed father to accept his homemade loaf of bread. ("That must of [sic] happened when the dough fell in the tool chest.") I loved the opening, as well, with Bill going along to different shops with his son in order to prepare him for the boat, and the hilarious scene in the hat shop as Junior eyes himself in the mirror as his father suggests these awful hats. The ending is just amazing (and dangerous!), as buildings fall apart due to an awful wind, with Buster doing a disappearing act and fighting to stand up straight and retain his composure

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