A series about the life, career and works of the movie comedy genius.
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1  
1987  
Won 3 Primetime Emmys. See more awards »
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Hollywood (TV Mini-Series 1980)
Documentary | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.2/10 X  

The definitive documentary about the American silent film industry.

Stars: James Mason, Viola Dana, Byron Haskin
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, Hans-Joachim Kulenkampff, Virginia Cherrill
One Week (1920)
Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A newly wedded couple attempts 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 | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 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
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

An unimpressive but well intending man is given the chance to marry a popular actress, of whom he has been a hopeless fan. But what he doesn't realize is that he is being used to make the actress' old flame jealous.

Directors: Edward Sedgwick, Buster Keaton
Stars: Buster Keaton, Dorothy Sebastian, Edward Earle
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
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
Hard Luck (1921)
Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Strange things ensue after a young man attempts to take his own life.

Directors: Edward F. Cline, Buster Keaton
Stars: Buster Keaton, Virginia Fox, Joe Roberts
Neighbors (1920)
Short | Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A young couple who live next to each other in tenement apartments do everything they can to be together despite of their feuding families.

Directors: Edward F. Cline, Buster Keaton
Stars: Buster Keaton, Virginia Fox, Joe Roberts
Sherlock Jr. (1924)
Action | Comedy | Romance
    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
The Paleface (1922)
Short | Comedy | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Buster helps a Native American tribe save their land from greedy oil barons.

Directors: Edward F. Cline, Buster Keaton
Stars: Buster Keaton, Virginia Fox, Joe Roberts
Three Ages (1923)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The misadventures of Buster in three separate historical periods.

Directors: Edward F. Cline, Buster Keaton
Stars: Buster Keaton, Margaret Leahy, Wallace Beery
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Cast

Complete series cast summary:
...
 Narrator 3 episodes, 1987
Charles Lamont ...
William R. Cox ...
Loyal T. Lucas ...
Eleanor Keaton ...
...
Raymond Rohauer ...
John Wilson ...
Keith Fennell ...
William Ernshaw ...
Grace Matteson ...
Ronald Gilstrap ...
Harold Terry ...
...
Andy Nealis ...
...
Albert S. Rogell ...
Anthony Simmons ...
John Montgomery ...
 Himself - Journalist 3 episodes, 1987
Edward Bernds ...
...
Jerome Medrano ...
...
Len 'Spider' Austin ...
 Himself - Clown 3 episodes, 1987
...
Gerald Potterton ...
John Gillett ...
Mick Dillon ...
...
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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  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(3 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Connections

Features The Ken Murray Show (1950) See more »

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User Reviews

America's greatest director
18 August 2001 | by (Lexington, KY) – See all my reviews

I use the phrase "America's greatest director" not ironically, not unqualified, & not because I admire or otherwise favor silents over "talkies." I use it because I honestly think it's true. & this biography reenforces that belief more than anything I've seen or heard with the exception of actually seeing Keaton's movies. But sometimes you need something to get people to see these movies, movies which may seem quaint or curious to people used to hearing dialogue & sound effects. This documentary does it.

You see, Keaton UNDERSTOOD. Sometimes his movies are corny, sometimes they aim high & hit low, but mostly they're amazing. Mostly they happily present a very scrappy & sympathetic (but not perfect) protagonist & the many foul-ups & challenges he faces. He doesn't fret or moan but simply takes his beatings & tries again. Unlike Chaplin's main characters, Keaton's hero is very often the least important figure in the shot - because the effect is far more important than some kind of identification with the protagonist. Gags & foibles are fluid; nothing seems contrived or extraneous because so

much thought has been placed into each shot, each moment, to render everything crucial to the story. There's a reason that silent comedies are valued (in general) more than silent dramas: comedies speak more to the human condition, & the outrageous in a comedy is accepted where the theatrics & overemoting of a drama seems downright quaint. Keaton knew this. Keaton thrived within this.

How his career was cut short & reduced to nothing is documented here (I'm giving nothing away; volume 2 is entitled "Star Without A Studio") as well as his own problems with alcohol. I am especially suspectible to people who have a sense of the successes & failings of their lives & come to a grateful, gentle end; Keaton, like Harpo Marx, felt blessed by the chances he was given & modestly rated his own body of work. But listen: if you see this documentary, you'll want to see the movies, even if the documentary does show most of his most spectacular stunts. Because for Keaton, context was important: the star can be shown running at the bottom of the screen while a hundred cops chasing him take up most of it. So too can a single stunt, even the best stunt of a movie, make little sense without the context of the film.

Find this. Buy or rent this. Watch critically, note the precision of every scene, the skill with which they are composed & shot & carried out, & then seek out the originals. You'll compare them with your favorite films, you'll find that somewhere in the silent age of movies someone was actually an artist, someone making *comedy*, & you'll understand why people today mention Keaton in reverent tones.

I adore so much cinema, but I am always, always impressed by the skill of Buster Keaton.


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