A series about the life, career and works of the movie comedy genius.
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1  
1989   1987  
Won 3 Primetime Emmys. See more awards »
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Unknown Chaplin (TV Mini-Series 1983)
Documentary | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  

Using in part rare out-take footage, the film-making methods and techniques of Charles Chaplin are explored.

Stars: James Mason, Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance
Three Ages (1923)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The misadventures of Buster in three separate historical periods.

Directors: Edward F. Cline, Buster Keaton
Stars: Buster Keaton, Margaret Leahy, Wallace Beery
The Goat (1921)
Comedy | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A series of adventures begins when an accident during photographing causes Buster to be mistaken for Dead Shot Dan, the evil badguy.

Directors: Buster Keaton, Malcolm St. Clair
Stars: Buster Keaton, Virginia Fox, Joe Roberts
The Navigator (1924)
Action | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Two spoiled rich people find themselves trapped on an empty passenger ship.

Directors: Donald Crisp, Buster Keaton
Stars: Buster Keaton, Kathryn McGuire, Frederick Vroom
Short | Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

After waking up from his wacky dream, a theater stage hand inadvertently causes havoc everywhere he works.

Directors: Edward F. Cline, Buster Keaton
Stars: Buster Keaton, Edward F. Cline, Monte Collins
One Week (1920)
Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A newly wedded couple attempt to build a house with a prefabricated kit, unaware that a rival sabotaged the kit's component numbering.

Directors: Edward F. Cline, Buster Keaton
Stars: Buster Keaton, Sybil Seely, Joe Roberts
Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A drifter at an amusement park finds himself both the bodyguard and hit man of a man targeted by a criminal gang.

Directors: Edward F. Cline, Buster Keaton
Stars: Buster Keaton, Bartine Burkett, Charles Dorety
Easy Street (1917)
Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A reformed tramp becomes a police constable who must fight a huge thug who dominates an inner city street.

Director: Charles Chaplin
Stars: Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Eric Campbell
Sherlock Jr. (1924)
Action | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A film projectionist longs to be a detective, and puts his meagre skills to work when he is framed by a rival for stealing his girlfriend's father's pocketwatch.

Director: Buster Keaton
Stars: Buster Keaton, Kathryn McGuire, Joe Keaton
Short | Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Charlie is an overworked labourer at a film studio who helps a young woman find work even while his coworkers strike against his tyrannical boss.

Director: Charles Chaplin
Stars: Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Eric Campbell
Daydreams (1922)
Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A sincere young man leaves his home to win his fortune so he can marry his home town sweetheart.

Directors: Edward F. Cline, Buster Keaton
Stars: Buster Keaton, Renée Adorée, Edward F. Cline
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Narrated by Sydney Pollack, film critic Richard Schickel's dazzling two-hour plus documentary to one of the towering figures in film: Charles Chaplin. Hardcore Chaplin fans may not find ... See full summary »

Director: Richard Schickel
Stars: Charles Chaplin, Sydney Pollack, Bill Irwin
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Cast

Complete series cast summary:
...
 Narrator (3 episodes, 1987-1989)
...
 Himself (archive footage) (3 episodes, 1987-1989)
Eleanor Keaton ...
 Herself (3 episodes, 1987-1989)
Raymond Rohauer ...
 Himself (3 episodes, 1987-1989)
William Collier Jr. ...
 Himself (2 episodes, 1987-1989)
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Storyline

In this series, we follow the life of the legendary movie comedy giant from his childhood on the stage to his film career. Along the way, we learn of the works of this genius and his methods in creating them. Furthermore, we see how events drove him to ruin and how they turned around in his later years to allow him to enjoy the acclaim that was his due. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

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Details

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Release Date:

30 September 1987 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Buster Keaton - Sein Leben, sein Werk  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(3 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Connections

Features College (1927) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A hard act to follow itself
14 March 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"A Hard Act to Follow" is probably the best documentary of its kind that could have been made. Three hours isn't long enough to document everything about a man's life but it is long enough to give a touching picture of Buster Keaton as a person, and a thoroughly insightful impression of his peculiar brilliance as a comedian and filmmaker.

The use of old film of Keaton's work is extensive and done in exactly the way it should be. It's not just B-roll thrown randomly behind narration or interview audio. Clips selected for that kind of use illustrate what is being talked about perfectly, and are timed and sped or slowed with great precision, probably just as Keaton would have wanted them. Longer extracts do a marvelous job of illustrating his greatest comedy moments, and -- best of all -- film is slowed or enlarged in ways that really illuminate, sometimes in stunning ways, new things about the comedies that even somebody who had seen them dozens of times would not have known. This is one of this documentary's biggest strengths.

Rare footage of Keaton is very generous and aptly introduced too, including home movies, candid shots of his directing, television kinescopes, commercials he created, and lengthy interview material from the man himself.

Another thing that makes this documentary special, and the thing that makes it really irreplaceable, is that, made a not-astronomical 21 years after his death, it is able to include illuminating interviews with Keaton's third wife and other people who knew and worked with him during his lifetime (and they all seem to have a boundless affection for the man).

I think anyone appreciates Keaton's work should see this documentary, and it would probably be an excellent introduction for those who don't already. It's made with an enormous amount of insight, skill, affection, and apprehension.


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