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The Best Arbuckle/Keaton Collection

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A rising star who rose from bit player to writer, director, and star of comedies for Mack Sennett's Keystone Film Company, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle recruited up-and-coming vaudeville comic Buster Keaton for a series of films from 1917 through 1919. Presented chronologically, these shorts demonstrate Keaton's evolution from bit player to full partner as both men honed their comedic skills. Following the 1921 scandal that was inflamed by a publicity-seeking prosecutor and the tabloid press, Arbuckle's films were withdrawn from circulation in America. The films in this collection were gathered from international archives and private collections, with new English intertitles and digitally mastered from 35mm, some directly from the nitrate originals.


The Best Arbuckle/Keaton Collection literally defines the phenomenon of genius in the making. While showcasing the formidable slapstick talents of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle as director and star, this 12-title compilation is also a remarkable study of Buster Keaton's rapid evolution as a silent comedy master. Made in swift succession from 1917 to 1919, these chronologically sequenced two-reelers serve a dual purpose, re-establishing Arbuckle as an underrated talent (his career was tragically curtailed by an infamous rape scandal, despite his eventual exoneration), while crediting his mentorship of Keaton from Vaudeville veteran to inspired movie pioneer. The "Great Stone Face" had yet to emerge (though it's evident in Keaton's 1917 debut, "The Butcher Boy"), so Buster's innately amusing countenance is wondrously animated here, especially in "Coney Island," which doubles as an illustrious postcard from a bygone era. The final collaboration, "The Garage," was Buster's favorite, and it's easy to see why: with a giant turntable, fire hoses, grease buckets, and all varieties of gag-laden shtick, it's a sublime (and like most of these films, well-preserved) example of two gifted comedians at the peak of their craft. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • Brochure by Jeffrey Vance, co-author of Buster Keaton Remembered

Product Details

  • Actors: Roscoe Fatty Arbuckle, Buster Keaton
  • Format: Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: October 22, 2002
  • Run Time: 248 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006IUIU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130,419 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Best Arbuckle/Keaton Collection" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

91 of 92 people found the following review helpful By Mark Pollock on January 1, 2003
This is a very nicely done collection of the Buster Keaton - Fatty Arbuckle Comique comedies made between 1917-1919. The collection contains almost all of their existing comedies, with the exception of "The Cook" which was recently discovered.
The presentation is very well done, although there appears to be no "View All" option, so you must go to each comedy seperately. A minor problem, to be sure.
The films often come from different copies than the 2 disc Kino collection of most of these films. "The Butcher Boy" looks about the same, as does "The Rough House". "His Wedding Night" and "Oh Doctor!" are both new to this collection, and look pretty good, although they don't have a lot of Keaton in them. "Coney Island" is slightly improved, and "Out West" is from a MUCH better copy that ever seen before, more complete, much better condition - but with some splices that could have been fixed by editing in footage from the other version. Why wasn't this done?
"The Bell Boy" is exactly the same as on Kino, but "Moonshine" is very different. There are two existing copies of this film - one is a complete copy on 16mm with very poor contrast and lots of missing detail, the other a very fragmentary but high-quality version on 35mm. This set features the 35mm version, the Kino set the 16mm. Once again, why weren't these two edited together? The 16mm could use the quality improvement, and the 35mm just doesn't make sense and is really missing most of the good parts, not to mention the poorly done titles.
On Disc 2, "Good Night, Nurse", "Back Stage", "The Hayseed", and "The Garage" are all in fine condition.
Picture wise, this set is very well encoded, without much artifacting at all.
Musically, the accompaniment is very nicely done.
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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Chip Kaufmann on November 11, 2002
I have been awaiting this set ever since Image Entertainment announced it's release in order to make a comparison with the earlier one from Kino. Although the two volume ARBUCKLE & KEATON set is very fine (see my other reviews), this set features a new comedy not included in the other one (HIS WEDDING NIGHT) plus mostly original nitrate prints of the other shorts gathered from foriegn archives. There are more complete versions of OUT WEST and THE ROUGH HOUSE here as well as a much better print of MOONSHINE although it's only a fragment. However some of the Image prints (THE BUTCHER BOY, THE BELLHOP, and especially BACK STAGE) are not as pristine as those offered by Kino. They also lack the color tinting of the other set and feature a more traditional music accompaniment (piano and synthesizer) compared to the raucous although endearingly colorful scores by The Alloy Orchestra. The title cards are also different.

While not as funny, they are probably closer to the originals. In fact the major difference in these two sets is authenticity in presentation (although in CONEY ISLAND Luna Park is misspelled as Luma). The Image shorts are even arranged chronologically so that we can see Arbuckle and Keaton progress together although the shorts are unevenly distributed among the two discs (8 on Disc 1, 4 on Disc 2). So where does that leave us? For the general public the Kino edition is probably a better introduction to Arbuckle's work although it's on two seperate discs and therefore more expensive. This set is more complete and offers more for the silent film enthusiast who will be more forgiving of its few shortcomings. While I heartily recommend the Kino edition, my nod goes to this set.The important thing is that now there are two quality sets of the Arbuckle comedies available and the choice will be up to you. It's a win/win situation.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris on February 3, 2005
It has been claimed more than once that Fatty Arbuckle taught Buster Keaton the mechanics of making movies, and Buster taught Fatty the artistry of making film comedies. Although things are invariably more complicated, this survey of the Arbuckle/Keaton partnership essentially supports this idea. What's great about the collection from an historical perspective is that it covers their entire period together, from the Butcher Boy (April 1917) to The Garage (late 1919). What a difference in artistry between these films! The Butcher Boy is not far removed from the Keystone style, except for Buster's contribution (compare Chaplin's stealing the scene as a supporting player in The Knock Out of 1914). By contrast, The Garage, the last chronologically in the series, lays almost completely new ground for comedy: it is pure comic ballet, combined with Keaton's creative use of nature and machine as props, and a much more controlled concept of mayhem. No one, not even Chaplin, was creating and executing such fresh concepts in 1919.

Between these two milestones, there's a lot of fun to be had. However, a noticeable difference in quality can be seen between the first 9 movies in the set, and the last 3, made after Keaton returned from World War 1. In the first set, Keaton is primarily a supporting player for Arbuckle, often stealing the scene by his physical grace, but not on the whole dominating the story. For modern viewers, these Keystonesque films are less satisfying -- Arbuckle was simply not the creative visionary that Keaton was. The best in this earlier set might be Coney Island, for its creative use of the amusement park.
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