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Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928)

Marion Byron , Joe Keaton , Charles Reisner  |  NR |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Marion Byron, Joe Keaton, Tom Lewis, Tom McGuire, Ernest Torrence
  • Directors: Charles Reisner
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC, Silent
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 20, 2001
  • Run Time: 70 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305609950
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,843 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Steamboat Bill Jr." on IMDb

Special Features

  • Contains Buster Keaton's Feature, Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928, 69 min.), as well as two Keaton shorts: Convict 13 (1920, 20 min.) and Daydreams (1922, 22 min.)

Editorial Reviews

Flavored with Americana and loaded with cinematic inventiveness, "Steamboat Bill, Jr." (1928, 69 min.) was Buster Keaton's final independent production before joining MGM (where his work suffered a steady decline in quality), a comic masterpiece that represents the full breath of its maker's remarkable talents. Set on the Mississippi River, "Steamboat Bill, Jr." follows the adventures of a spoiled young man who is forced by his crusty father (Ernest Torrence) to learn riverboating. Over the course of the narrative, the scale of comedy gradually expands, from small-scale, nostalgic humor (as when Bill Sr. outfits his son with a new wardrobe) to some of the most elaborate sight gags of Keaton's career. Junior's attempts to single-handedly pilot the rag-tag "Stonewall Jackson" recall the mechanical brilliance of The General and The Navigator, but the films crowning achievement is its hurricane climax. Highlighted by remarkable special effects, the film includes the legendary stunt in which the front of a building collapses over Junior, who passes unharmed through an open window. Added to this DVD are two Keaton shorts. Surprisingly dark yet wickedly funny, "Convict 13" (1920, 20 min.) combines gallows humor with rapid-fire slapstick. In "Daydreams" (1922, 22 min.), Buster tries to establish himself in a profession--from veterinary assistant to street-sweeper to actor--and, in one of his most cleverly staged chases, is pursued by a herd of New York City "bulls." Digitally mastered from archival prints, with original musical scores.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great DVD with lots of action January 23, 2000
I have most of the Buster Keaton DVDs and this is one of the most fun. "Steamboat Bill Jr" is the typical Buster Keaton plot, with twice the stuntwork. The hurricane scene is one of his most famous and shows the talent, genius and dexterity of this man. Incredibly fun and entertaining for the whole family.
The first short, "Convict 13" is not a very high quality print, and some parts of it get very hard to decipher, but you must remember that 1 complete reel of this film was considered lost forever until recently. At least we get to see the short in it's entirety. "Convict 13" was one of Keaton's first starring movies for Metro studios and shows him in a very slapstick-ish role; His trademark dean-pan expressionism and personality have not quite evolved at the time of this film. It's still very fun, but not as sophisticated as his later work.
The final short on this DVD "Daydreams", is another 'nearly lost' classic. The DVD states that some of the footage is unavailable and they took the liberty to piece a few extra stills and title cards to make the movie flow with a comprehensible storyline. Once again, the transfer quality is not high, but better than "Convict 13". "Daydreams" is classic Keaton, complete with the chase scene of 20-30 police officers, ala "Cops" (See 'The General' DVD). There is an implied attempted suicide in "Daydreams", but it's all completely off screen.
Once again, I have yet to be disappointed by a Buster Keaton DVD from Kino International. I recommend it highly.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keaton Brings the House Down in one of his best. January 4, 2001
As one of his last great silent films, Steamboat Bill Jr.(1928) is one of Buster Keaton's finest. Nearly a third of it's 69 minute running time is comprised of some of the most spectacular and funniest stunt work Keaton ever did. The General, Our Hospitality and the 45 minute Sherlock Jr. are better films but none are any more entertaining than Steamboat Bill Jr .
Bill (Ernest Torrence) is the tough Captain and owner of the old and somewhat run-down Stonewall Jackson river boat. He is about to be run out of business by the richest man in town, King (Tom McGuire). King has built a huge, fancy river-boat and gets the Stonewall condemned.
Bill then gets word that his son is going to visit him. He has not seen his son for many years-Bill Junior aka Willie, has been in college back east-and Bill Sr. imagines his son must be bigger than he is. He's pretty disappointed that not only does his son look like a 90 pound weakling, but he's got a city slicker hat on that has got to be replaced pronto. Father decides its time to make a man out of his son, while son Willie, has his eyes on a beautiful young lady (Marion Byron) who happens to be chief rival King's daughter.
Father Bill ends up in jail, and Buster Willie tries to break him out. He succeeds, but is almost accosted himself so Father turns himself back in and Willie is sent to the hospital with a minor injury. Just when it looks like the old Steamboat is doomed for extinction, and Willie won't get the girl the weather changes.
The final extended sequence of the film begins at the front porch of the King Hotel. King is warned that a wind storm is coming and the pier is not going to be strong enough to hold his fancy boat against the wind.
The wind blows and the death defying stunts, and inventive sight gags begin.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buster's Classic Scenes March 1, 2000
By Cheated
STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. (1928): Never having seen each other before, preppy college student Buster arrives to meet his father at his father's riverboat town along the Mississippi River. Buster's burly father expects a tall blue-collar guy he can pass his riverboat business on to inherit but is disappointed to find a prancing Buster in pantaloons, ukulele, and a ridiculous French beret which comes to irritate his father. It's bad enough that Buster is an incompetent wreck on the boat, the worst thing he had done is get involved with the daughter of his father's enemy. Later, Buster's father gets sent to jail for trying to slug his enemy and this becomes an opportunity where Buster gets to prove himself. The last third of the movie contains some of the most classic scenes Keaton ever filmed, which involve the destruction of the town in a cyclone. Scene after scene shows Keaton bouncing around town trying to survive the desecration swirling around him. I've never seen him more athletic. This movie contains the famous scene of Keaton going through the glassless-window of the side of a 2-story house, which slams to the ground around him. You can see that the wall missed his left shoulder by about an inch. The film did not do well financially when it was released in 1928, but I think it was due to a distribution problem. As an independent filmmaker, Keaton did not release all his films from one single company, such as a good one like MGM which turned his films into hits. I think Steamboat Bill, Jr. was released by United Artists, which was a troubled company. However, Steamboat Bill, Jr. is a definite classic and deserved to be a hit.
One of the offhand things I found amusing in this film is that there's an actual typo on one of the title cards!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Just as described
Published 2 months ago by Issac
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great Buster Keaton movie
When William Canfield Jr. (played by Buster Keaton) arrives to meet his long-time estranged father, Steamboat Bill, he’s more than a little bit of a disappointment. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Kurt A. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Steamboat' Bill Canfield: "I'll run on this river if I'm the only...
The website for DVD-R manufacturer DESERT ISLAND claims they are the "oldest, largest, and highest quality public domain film library in the world. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Annie Van Auken
4.0 out of 5 stars Got what I paid for
This item was priced reasonably and arrived in the time alloted. However, on my DVD player, I could not select the various titles. Read more
Published on August 10, 2012 by Sue
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting Keaton Feature
"Steamboat Bill Jr." is definitely among the best of Buster Keaton's silent classics, undoubtedly up there with "The General" as a top-notch, major production with wonderful sight... Read more
Published on April 30, 2011 by Robert E. Nylund
5.0 out of 5 stars Steamboat Bill Jr.
Co-directed by Keaton, this delightful comic romp follows a hapless steamboat operator who just can't seem to please his steely, rough-edged pop. Read more
Published on June 20, 2007 by John Farr
4.0 out of 5 stars Truly Funny Silent Comedy
Steamboat Bill (Ernest Torrence) is in competition with another local riverboat man (Tom McGuire). Aside from his problems at home, his son (Buster Keaton) is coming home from... Read more
Published on March 20, 2007 by Samantha Glasser
4.0 out of 5 stars Two rare restorations and a Keaton classic
These three samples of Buster Keaton' work span most of his silent solo career (1921-28) and show the infinite diversity of mood and theme he was able to create. Read more
Published on September 13, 2006 by Robert A. Morris
4.0 out of 5 stars Sight gags to structural collapse
This was a surprising and remarkably paced film of Keaton's. What starts out as pretty quaint and rural extends to higher and higher proportions as the comedy switches from the... Read more
Published on June 26, 2006 by PolarisDiB
4.0 out of 5 stars Steamboats and Slapstick
STEAMBOAT BILL, JR (1928) was Buster Keaton's final independent film -- the last feature he would make before financial issues forced him to sign what would be a disastrous... Read more
Published on May 12, 2004 by Andrew McCaffrey
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