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  • Saphead
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Product Details

  • Actors: Katherine Albert, Edward Alexander, Beulah Booker, Henry Clauss, Edward Connelly
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC, Silent
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kino Video
  • DVD Release Date: November 20, 2001
  • Run Time: 118 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305701245
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130,991 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Saphead" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Contains the Buster Keaton Feature The Saphead (1920, Color Tinted, 78 min.), and Two Keaton Shorts: The High Sign (1921, B&W, 21 min.) & One Week (1921, B&W, 19 min.)
  • Digitally remastered with original music scores

Editorial Reviews

Before Buster Keaton made his name as one of the silent cinema's most accomplished and creative comics, he starred in this conventional but cute comedy based on the Broadway play The New Henrietta (previously made into the Douglas Fairbanks vehicle The Lamb). Keaton plays the spoiled son of a millionaire unjustly accused of scandalous behavior and tossed into a bustling world that he's completely unprepared for. Apart from the energetic finale, in which he leaps, slides, and wrestles with Wall Street lions on the stock exchange floor, Keaton is given little opportunity for comic gymnastics and the comedy stays safe and conventional. The Saphead is a completely genial and entertaining film carried by Keaton's sweet charm and plucky naiveté and it made him a star, but it's ultimately a footnote to a career that later blossomed in creative inspiration. Keaton revived the figure of the clueless social dandy with his self-directed features The Navigator and Battling Butler. Also featured are Keaton's first two solo shorts: "The High Sign," a knockabout lark in which Keaton infiltrates a secret society of criminals, and "One Week," an inspired gem with newlywed Buster mangling a do-it-yourself house. --Sean Axmaker

Product Description

More than just a silent comedian known for his pratfalls and clever mimicry, Buster Keaton was an unqualified genius of the American cinema. This DVD presents three of his early works, displaying his extraordinary talents as actor and filmmaker alike. Keaton stars in "The Saphead" (1920, 78 min.) as Bertie Van Alstyne, the spoiled son of a powerful Wall Street financier. Unable to escape the wealth and comfort that are foisted upon him, he pursues individuality in a series of comic misadventures in the speakeasies of New York, the altar of matrimony and even the floor of the American Stock Exchange. "The High Sign" (1921, 21 min.) finds Buster unwittingly involved in a radical secret society known as the Blinking Buzzards, stumbling from assassin to bodyguard in a romantic adventure that climaxes in a mind-boggling romp through a booby-trapped mansion. Dreams of domesticity are systematically satirized and ultimately demolished in "One Week" (1921, 19 min.), Keaton's bittersweet parable of one couple's unflagging determination to build a prefabricated honeymoon cottage.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 14, 1998
Format: VHS Tape
The three box set of Buster Keaton videos contains a number of his better works. I particularly liked One Week, Sherlock Jr. (wonderful), Our Hosptitality, and My Wife's Relations. Our Hospitality contains some daring river and waterfall scenes shot not too far from where we live in the Sierra mountains of California. Sherlock Jr. is one of his top notch films. The Three Ages is perhaps one of the weaker films in the package. One Week involves Buster in an attempt to build a new house from a kit. It's quite funny, and particularly relevant to anyone who has attempted to build a home or perform major home repairs.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Cheated on October 23, 2000
Format: DVD
This collection contains the first 3 films Buster made following the filmmaking apprenticeship he experienced under Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle from 1917-19. After seeing the dissatisfying results of "The High Sign", he was hired to do "The Saphead" while thinking up a better idea for his 2-reeler debut, which eventually came to be "One Week".
THE SAPHEAD (1920): "The Saphead" is based on the play "The Henrietta", which had been a hit on Broadway and starred Douglas Fairbanks in the role of Bertie "the Lamb" Van Alstyne. Fairbanks had recommended Buster for the role in this filmed version, retitled "The Saphead".
Buster's role doesn't start until about 10 minutes into the movie, where we see him wolfing down a big meal and being overly pampered by valets and servants. Bertie the Lamb is the son of a wealthy man who thinks his son is spoiled and soft. Because Bertie has read a book that states that the modern girl is more interested in a dangerous guy than a safe guy, he goes to a gambling parlor and then tries to get himself arrested. In this scene, fans of Buster's are given a rare treat: He opens his mouth and shows his teeth, which almost develops into a full smile! What a cutie!!
"The Saphead" is actually a drama that's peppered with the subjects of infidelity, illegitimate children, death, suicide, and financial ruin. The only comedic moments in the film are supplied by Buster, who is allowed to practice his trademark pratfalls in a few scenes, which help illustrate the depth of his inept character, the Lamb. But because of his role, the film is worth watching simply because he's in it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Paul J. Mular TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 28, 2012
Format: Blu-ray
The new Blu-ray disc (and re-issue DVD) from Kino Classics presents TWO DIFFERENT versions of THE SAPHEAD, derived from two different camera negatives.
I prefer watching the "Alternate" version, it is way better in the second half with better interior details.

The first version is the standard "Rohauer" version with his re-issues titles and film tinting. The "Alternate" version (accessible from the extras menu) presents what is believed to be the foreign camera negative version that would have been sent to other countries to have the 1-frame dialogue cards translated (Kino inserted the Rohauer dialogue cards that are long enough to read).

The "Rohauer" version has new Rohauer titles and a brief history of the story on stage before the movie starts. The "Alternate" version recreates what the original title card might have looked like. Unfortunately the original title cards have not survived over time.

The "Rohauer" version is 2 minutes longer than the "Alternate" version, but this discrepancy, demonstrated in a brief bonus documentary, is due to slightly shorter cuts of some scenes. Nothing major is missing.

The "Rohauer" version may look sharper at first, but you will notice much more detail in the dark areas of the "Alternate Version". The wedding scene is particularly dark around the edges, Kino tried to compensate for the edge darkness by raising the black levels on the edges, but this does not restore the details, It just gives a weird halo effect that looks unnatural. The "Alternate" version has all details and a smooth grey-tone.

The "Rohauer" version tints all scenes various colors (muted somewhat on this new re-release) while the "Alternate" version only tints the night scenes blue.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By June Miller on August 10, 2000
Format: DVD
Disclaimer: I am a huge fan of Keaton's work. This is why it pains me to say that "The Saphead" is weak, and not just by Keaton's standards. As much as I love this man - skip this film. That said, I gave this DVD three stars because of the short features which follow it. "The High Sign," described by one reviewer as "a lark," is actually one of my favorites. Filled with enough gags for any short comedy, Keaton's acting is a pleasure and the plot is the sort of comedy/conspiracy narrative G. K. Chesterton might have made if silent films were his thing - I'm always reminded of "The Man Who Was Thursday." "One Week" is another wonderful short. With the famed, surreal hobby-kit house and a perfect ending, it is another must see Keaton short.
So here's the problem: is it worth getting The Saphead just for the two shorts? If you're a Keaton fan and want to fill out the collection then go ahead, you won't regret it. If you're not a big fan, but like Keaton at his best, go for a DVD of more consistent quality - I recommend the Our Hospitality/Sherlock Jr. double feature.
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