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So Funny It Hurt: Buster Keaton & MGM (2004)

A documentary which explores movie comedian Buster Keaton's five years under contract at MGM, where personal problems and studio tyranny nearly destroyed him.
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... Himself (archive footage)
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... Himself (archive footage)
... Himself (archive footage)
... Himself (archive footage)
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A documentary which explores movie comedian Buster Keaton's five years under contract at MGM, where personal problems and studio tyranny nearly destroyed him.

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7 December 2004 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Included in the 2-disc DVD set "The Buster Keaton Collection", released by Warner Home Video in December 2004. See more »

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Features A Night at the Opera (1935) See more »

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A slightly tragic but thoroughly documentary on Keaton's temporary decline.
2 August 2017 | by See all my reviews

I was already aware of the professional strife that Buster Keaton endured during his 5 years at "M.G.M." This documentary focuses upon the comedian's life and career from 1928 til 1933. During that time, Buster made 10 films for the studio. I would say 3 of them are very good but the rest are mediocre and it wasn't even Buster's fault. The style of most of the films for "M.G.M" was completely wrong for the comedian. The talkie films had song and dance numbers which didn't suit Buster at all. He had a good voice for the talkies but tyrant Louis B. Mayer refused to allow Buster to continue making films his way and the flops soon appeared. He ended up by being at the mercy of Mayer who demanded total obedience from all his employees. Buster was having to work the studio way, which meant all his ideas for films had to be clear and concise. He never worked that way when he was an independent as he was an intuitive artist. That held little appeal for Mayer and working relations between the two quickly broke down. All this and more is highlighted and documented. The documentary doesn't shy away from detailing Buster's battle with alcohol after he worried about where his career was going and his despair at being teamed up with Jimmy Durante. We get some generous clips of some of the comedian's work during this period. A lot is covered in about 35 minutes. Perhaps the running time could have been closer to 45 minutes but it doesn't matter.

This documentary makes for gripping viewing.


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