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Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow 

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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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
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
Comedy | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A millionaire vacationing in Mexico falls for a local girl and sets out to win her.

Director: Del Lord
Stars: Buster Keaton, Lorna Gray, Gino Corrado
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

In Paris, a stage-struck would-be actor is mistaken for an escaped convict.

Director: Max Nosseck
Stars: Buster Keaton, Madeleine Guitty, Paulette Dubost
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Victor is a failure; a poor barber who has come to despise poverty with a vengeance. There had to be a way to make a big score, and live to enjoy it. Fate intervenes when Victor's new ... See full summary »

Director: Brian Anthony
Stars: Seth Barrish, Elaine Wood, Joe Biscone
What-No Beer? (1933)
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

Two men decide to cash in on the end of Prohibition by selling watered down beer.

Director: Edward Sedgwick
Stars: Buster Keaton, Jimmy Durante, Roscoe Ates
Unknown Chaplin (TV Mini-Series 1983)
Documentary | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 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
Comedy | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Elmer Butts is a contestant in a radio amateur hour show hoping to win the first price... by dancing and juggling!

Director: Charles Lamont
Stars: Buster Keaton, Diana Lewis, Harold Goodwin
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
Seven Chances (1925)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A man learns he will inherit a fortune if he marries by 7 p.m. that same day.

Director: Buster Keaton
Stars: Buster Keaton, Ruth Dwyer, T. Roy Barnes
Tractor Man (2018)
Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Director: Scott Tamura
Stars: Derek Taylor Shayne, Joe Dyson, Bob Barnett
Doughboys (1930)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A naive and wealthy young man seeks to impress a girl and then unwittingly signs up for army service.

Director: Edward Sedgwick
Stars: Buster Keaton, Sally Eilers, Cliff Edwards
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Cast

Complete series cast summary:
Lindsay Anderson ...  Narrator 3 episodes, 1987
Charles Lamont Charles Lamont ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1987
William R. Cox William R. Cox ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1987
Loyal T. Lucas Loyal T. Lucas ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1987
Eleanor Keaton Eleanor Keaton ...  Herself 3 episodes, 1987
Harvey Parry ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1987
Raymond Rohauer Raymond Rohauer ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1987
John Wilson John Wilson ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1987
Keith Fennell Keith Fennell ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1987
William Ernshaw William Ernshaw ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1987
Grace Matteson Grace Matteson ...  Herself 3 episodes, 1987
Ronald Gilstrap Ronald Gilstrap ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1987
Harold Terry Harold Terry ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1987
Dean Riesner ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1987
Anthony D. Nealis Anthony D. Nealis ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1987
Gil Perkins ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1987
Albert S. Rogell Albert S. Rogell ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1987
Anthony Simmons Anthony Simmons ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1987
John Montgomery John Montgomery ...  Himself - Journalist 3 episodes, 1987
Edward Bernds Edward Bernds ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1987
Jack Cummings ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1987
Jerome Medrano Jerome Medrano ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1987
Billy Beck ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1987
Len 'Spider' Austin Len 'Spider' Austin ...  Himself - Clown 3 episodes, 1987
James Karen ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1987
Gerald Potterton Gerald Potterton ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1987
John Gillett John Gillett ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1987
Mick Dillon ...  Himself 3 episodes, 1987
William Collier Jr. ...  Himself 2 episodes, 1987
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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

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 September 1987 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Buster Keaton - Sein Leben, sein Werk See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Thames Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(3 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Alternate Versions

German version runs 120 min (as aired on "arte" channel in March 2004). See more »

Connections

Features Three Ages (1923) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Buster's Rise, Fall, and Rise
20 May 2005 | by theowinthropSee all my reviews

After Hollywood, and THE UNKNOWN CHAPLIN, Kevin Brownlow and David Gill did this documentary on Buster Keaton, and how he developed as the leading rival of Charlie Chaplin as number one comic of the Silent Period (Harold Lloyd is number three, and then - supposedly - Harry Langdon, Raymond Griffith, and Laurel and Hardy). Keaton had begun with his parents in a lively, knockabout vaudeville act (literally his father threw him about the stage). When he entered movies it was with Fatty Arbuckle's company, and as Arbuckle's friend and admirer. Unlike most silent performers, Keaton was interested about how movies were made, and actually took apart a camera to study it's workings. He learned to build jokes into his films to develop character. And he never lost his fascination with the power of what films could do. Look at a film like SHERLOCK JR., where he carefully spends time using cutting to make a series of improbable events occur on screen (such as jumping through the chest of a man standing in front of a wall). Chaplin plucks at the heartstrings, Lloyd takes ordinariness and perks it up with dangers, but Keaton is concerned on how man is at the mercy of nature and science. In one long sequence joke in OUR HOSPITALITY, Keaton is being chased to a waterfall set of cliffs. He ties himself to a rope hoping to climb up. An enemy finds the rope and ties it to himself, planning to surprise Keaton when he climbs up. Keaton sees this and yanks on the rope causing his enemy to fall off the top of the cliff into the waterfall, but as the body of the man fall down in the background, Keaton realizes the rope is still tied securely to his own body. Looking stoically into the camera and waiting, a moment later we see Keaton pulled off the screen by the falling body of his enemy. He can fight human enemies, but not the law of gravity.

Keaton did well until 1928, but then family and health problems hit him, especially his growing alcoholism. Stripped of his dignity by a studio boss (Louis B. Mayer) who had no time for has-beens, he became a gag writer. But he still occasionally made films in the sound period. The film shows how Keaton's rise occurred in the 1950s, spurred on by the rediscovery of many of his films. It is a remarkable story of a gifted genius who lived long enough to know he was not a drunken failure but universally admired.


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