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Buster Keaton Collection (The Cameraman / Spite Marriage / Free & Easy) (2004)

Various , Various  |  NR |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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Frequently Bought Together

Buster Keaton Collection (The Cameraman / Spite Marriage / Free & Easy) + Buster Keaton - 65th Anniversary Collection (General Nuisance / His Ex Marks the Spot / Mooching Through Georgia / Nothing but Pleasure / Pardon My Berth Marks / Pest From the West / So You Won't Squawk / The Spook Speaks / The Taming of the Snood / She's Oil Mine) + Industrial Strength Keaton
Price for all three: $45.18

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Product Details

  • Actors: Various
  • Directors: Various
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Original recording remastered, Special Edition, Subtitled, Silent
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Turner Classic Movie
  • DVD Release Date: December 7, 2004
  • Run Time: 152 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00049QQ78
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,585 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Buster Keaton Collection (The Cameraman / Spite Marriage / Free & Easy)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Three Keaton films: The Cameraman, Spite Marriage Free and Easy
  • New score by Arthur Barrow on The Cameraman
  • Kevin Brownlow's all-new documentary So Funny It Hurt: Buster Keaton and MGM
  • Photo montages from the two silent films

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

The Buster Keaton Collection presents three of the first films (one, The Cameraman, a near masterpiece) Keaton made for MGM beginning in 1928, an arrangement that gradually ushered the great comic actor and director into the sound era but ultimately deprived him of creative control. The Cameraman, considered by many to be Keaton's last important silent work, is an unusual story about a tintype portrait photographer (Keaton) who becomes a newsreel cameraman in order to win the heart of a secretary (Marceline Day). After flubbing an assignment by double-exposing some action footage, the hapless hero tries to prove himself in several memorable sequences of Keatonesque knockabout comedy (including a Chinatown street battle). There are also a couple of grace notes, such as a scene set in Yankee Stadium in which a solo Keaton exquisitely mimes the moves and attitudes of a pitcher. But The Cameraman's strange, almost subconscious power is in its variation on an old Keaton refrain: The hero's conflict over different kinds of authenticity, represented here on either side of a motion picture lens--the difference between capturing something real and living it.

The Cameraman shows obvious and unfortunate signs of MGM's insistence that Keaton, long accustomed to improvising scenes, conform to prepared shooting scripts. But it is less stifling than the second feature (Keaton's last silent movie) in this set, the 1929 Spite Marriage, a slight farce about a pants-presser (Keaton) who borrows his customers' fine threads to attend the theatre every night. There he worships an actress (Dorothy Sebastian) so furious with her caddish lover and co-star (Edward Earle) that she asks Keaton to marry her. The predictable results are unworthy of a Keaton film, but he does shine in several hilarious sequences, such as a disastrous turn as a bit player in his soon-to-be-wife's stage dramas. Finally, 1930's Free and Easy, Keaton's talkie debut, is a garish MGM valentine to itself, trotting out celebrity actors and directors (Lionel Barrymore, Cecil B. DeMille, Fred Niblo) in a wooden story set on a movie lot. But while Keaton struggles with dialogue and a script that frequently sidelines him, he has many good moments causing havoc on film sets. --Tom Keogh

Product Description

A two-disc DVD collection that spotlights the actor's MGM period. "TCM Archives: The Buster Keaton Collection" features two of Keaton's funniest silents, "The Cameraman," re-mastered with a new score by former Frank Zappa band member Arthur Barrow, and "Spite Marriage" (featuring its original 1929 Vitaphone musical score) along with "Free and Easy," Keaton's first talkie. The DVD set also features film historian Kevin Brownlow's poignant new documentary "So Funny It Hurt: Buster Keaton and MGM."

Considered by many cinema's greatest silent clown, Buster Keaton was a consummate practitioner of physical comedy whose career began in vaudeville at the age of three. Wearing trademark slapshoes and big baggy pants identical to his father's, most gags involved pratfalls with his father kicking him across the stage or tossing him into the air. Within a few years of his debut, Keaton was scoring rave reviews which applauded the physical comedy that would come to be so much a part of his film fame. "The dexterity or expertness with which Joe Keaton handles 'Buster' is almost beyond belief of studied 'business.' The boy accomplishes everything attempted naturally, taking a dive into the backdrop that almost any comedy acrobat of more mature years could watch with profit" (Variety, March 12, 1910).

Details of The Buster Keaton Collection Films

The Cameraman - After becoming infatuated with a pretty office worker, Keaton sets out to become a newsreel cameraman in order to be closer to his dream girl. Keaton's first film for MGM, made in 1928, is considered one of his funniest masterworks and offers up a feast of visual gags. The newly remastered DVD includes a new score by Arthur Barrow. Spite Marriage - In this 1929 silent laugh-filled classic, Keaton stars as Elmer, a man madly in love with stage star Trilbey Drew. When Trilbey's boyfriend gets engaged to another woman, she marries Elmer in a desperate attempt to get even. This was Keaton's final silent comedy, and is presented here with its original Vitaphone music score. Free and Easy - In Keaton's first talkie, he stars as an agent to beauty contest winner Elvira Plunkett. When Elvira decides to try her luck in Hollywood, Elmer goes along to help and the two soon find themselves falling in love. Chaos ensues when the couple must contend with Elvira's disapproving mother and a handsome movie star, who also has his sights set on the lovely Elvira. This 1930 classic is highlighted by guest appearances from a host of other MGM stars of the era including Robert Montgomery and Lionel Barrymore.


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
68 of 77 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Necessary Addition To Your Library June 8, 2005
Format:DVD
Boy, how I used to hate Ted Turner. Yes, hate. It wasn't too strong of a word. When Turner Classic Movies first began broadcasting, they were intent on colorizing everything. Don't remember colorization? Good! A handful of executives felt that for a classic black and white film to find an audience in the MTV age everything had to be colored in with day glow artificial colors, giving a number of films the look of a bad water color, everyone had the same skin color, making them unwatchable. At one point, Turner even wanted to colorize the early black and white episodes of "Gilligan's Island". I'm not sure (nor do I care) if that ever happened.

Now, Turner Classic Movies is an invaluable resource for anyone who loves or studies films. Using the MGM vault as their toy chest, and later adding libraries of other studios, they show a remarkable number of hard to find films that are not available on DVD or even video. In the last few years, MGM and Warner Bros. have begun releasing a large number of these films on DVD, using pristine prints, restoring films and creating a host of attractive extras. What a difference a decade makes.

Turner Classic Movies has released "The Buster Keaton Collection", a two disc set including "The Cameraman" (1928), "Spite Marriage" (1929) and "Free and Easy" (1930), Buster's first talkie. There is also a short documentary called "Buster Keaton: So Funny It Hurt" about his brief tenure at MGM. The documentary premiered on Turner Classic Movies.

Buster Keaton is one of my favorite film comedians, creating some of the funniest films I have ever seen. During much of his career, Keaton was his own boss.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Keaton keeper! December 13, 2004
Format:DVD
This is one set as a Keaton fan that you should add to your collection.
The rating however should really be three and a half stars.
This set comes in a handsome pull apart case housing the two DVDs but I was disappointed to find no booklet/liner notes with details about these new releases,i.e.sources for the prints,restoration work,etc.
The Cameraman is the BEST thing about this set.The 90s release of it on VHS came in around 70 minutes and was a poor transfer.By comparison this new version comes in at about 75 minutes and is the most complete commercially released print so far.It has been re-released with a NEW score and not the original featured on the VHS version.I personally would have preferred the original score but the new one does have a certain charm and in the end does justice to the film.With the additional footage/title cards,its' improved and adjusted contrast and overall picture quality, it has heightened,at least to this reviewer,its' reputation and enjoyment as one of Keatons' best films.
The next film is Spite Marriage.Two versions were released originally of this film,one a silent and THIS one with sound effects and a musical score.It would have been very nice to have had BOTH in this set for comparison/historical purposes but such was not the case.This print shows absolutely no improvement over the previously released VHS version also released in the 90s.It shows very few signs of being "cleaned up" at all.They have again adjusted the contrast but other than that and the sound being improved through digital means,the film as a re-release (technically) overall is a disappointment.
And the final film in this set "Free and Easy" is again, and even MORE so, a technical disappointment.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two movies and a debasement May 11, 2006
By Joan
Format:DVD
I'm a newcomer to Buster Keaton's films. I've heard of him since I was a kid, but I never actually watched his films until a couple months ago. I was a complete idiot to wait this long. The Cameraman is one of the funniest and most charming movies I have ever seen. Spite Marriage is much better than many of the reviewers are giving it credit for. They're probably comparing it to other Keaton films. I haven't seen all that many yet, so I can't do that. I can tell you it is much funnier than any comedy that any major film studio will secrete this year. Or next year. You get the idea.

A reviewer at IMDB described Free and Easy as "MGM's first snuff film." I couldn't have put it better. Thanks to the documentary that came with this set, I already knew what MGM did to Keaton's career before I saw how they did it. The scene with Buster wearing puppet strings has to be the most vivid image from that entire film. I can't blame him for turning into an alcoholic, after making something like that. All I did was watch that that movie, and I needed a drink afterward.

I can't recommend this set highly enough. Even Free and Easy has its educational value. It shows you precisely what happens when creative individuals are turned over to business people who don't actually understand or care about what they're doing, as long as it makes money. Some things don't ever change.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Almost worth getting for December 5, 2004
By Erica
Format:DVD
Considered a "model" MGM comedy, "The Cameraman" was used to train other moviemakers as an example of how a comedy should be constructed. Of course, MGM took credit for what was essentially still a Buster Keaton production, the last time he'd be allowed such creative control, sadly. Even then, the film show the MGM mark, in that this is a very sympathetic character.

There are some wonderful moments here. The "elevator" shot, in which Keaton goes up and down several flights of stairs to catch a call from his beloved, is a highlight, as are many of the pool scenes. Watch out for the [...] shot in the pool.

The other films are interesting to watch once, just to say that you've seen them. But knowing the heights that Buster had attained, it's hard to watch as he loses control of his work, knowing that his worst years are just ahead of him at this point. It helps knowing that all worked out relatively well in the end, but MGM just didn't know what they had, and didn't know how to go about letting a genius be a genius. Perhaps they didn't recognize what they had in Buster. I don't know.

I wouldn't recommend this collection to the Buster newbie. It's best to start off with "Sherlock Jr." or "The Navagator" or "Our Hospitality" first, then on to meatier works such as "The General" or perhaps the Keaton/Arbuckle collection. Only then would I try this collection. Though I found "The Cameraman" quite entertaining, the other films are really only for Buster afficianados.

The only highlight for me in "Free and Easy" for example, was Buster singing the title song and doing a little dance in clown makeup. It was a kick just to hear his voice, though that midwest twang of his might give some indication of why MGM, or most anyone else at the time, didn't realize that under that yokel voice and uneducated manner of speaking of his lurked a true master.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
fun!!
Published 1 month ago by punkin
5.0 out of 5 stars A MILESTONE IN SILENT COMEDY.
The name of Buster Keaton is regarded as one of the greatest silent comedians. The three films in this set are ample reasons for his fame. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jerome H. Rubin
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Buster Keaton TCM Archive Collection
3 fine representive films at MGM. 2 superb silents. Excellent commentary on both silent films by Keaton Historian experts. Both films are well preserved considering their age. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Robert M. Jensen
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
Great gift for some of my older friends =) They said it brought back wonderful memories of the past. Great seller
Published 5 months ago by Jorge
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of the best
I LOVE this collection. The cameraman and Spite Marriage are among my favorite Keaton films, but the packaging is excellent. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Sandra K. Keffer
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good
I purchased the item for a friend of mine and my friend loved it and said that is very satisfied
Published 17 months ago by Adnor Pitanga
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
As a huge Buster Keaton fan, this collection is fantastic - his last 2 silents plus his first talkie, plus a short documentary on his years at MGM. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Rebecca Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars Grace Under Pressure
This collection shows the first three films Keaton did at MGM, an action that in retrospect Keaton recognizes as "the worst mistake of his life". Read more
Published on January 20, 2012 by Georgette
5.0 out of 5 stars "What're you doin'? Givin' me a sleigh-ride?!"
THE CAMERAMAN (writ./dir. Buster Keaton, uncredited, 1928, 69 minutes). Your only other choice is to get it as a sole title on VHS: Cameraman [VHS]. A shame, but there you have it. Read more
Published on October 9, 2011 by E. Hernandez
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Representation of Buster's Transitional Period
Ignore any reviews who nitpick this DVD collection for being too short or unfunny. These films come from a very important and somewhat tragic period in Buster Keaton's career. Read more
Published on October 8, 2011 by M. Nelson
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