From Publishers Weekly
McPherson pays homage to Keaton's two-reelers and full-length movies by detailing the iconic filmmaker's plot lines and notable sight gags. Between 1920 and 1929, Keaton rivaled Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin as one of Hollywood's silent masters. Grabbing his title from Keaton's signature porkpie hat, McPherson, who's written for I.D.
magazine and the New York Observer
, has culled the narrative of the star's personal and professional life from earlier biographical works. His contribution is to adroitly describe the extraordinary visual lunacy Keaton produced on screen to achieve cinema art. Responsible for writing, acting, editing and directing, Keaton took what he knew—"the ingenuity, athleticism, and wit of vaudeville—and applied it to a burgeoning medium." On-screen physical catastrophes were his trademark, though many of his most treasured films, such as The General
, were not initially well received. McPherson also remarks on Keaton's disastrous marriage to Natalie Talmadge (her sister, Norma, was a major star), his adjustment to talkies and his descent into alcoholism, a demon he battled for decades. In his prime, Keaton lived a life of luxury, but he paid for his excesses. When his films lost favor, he was reduced to taking studio day jobs. Yet he saw his silent classics reissued and achieved happiness with his third wife, a sunny ending for this loving tribute. 40 b&w photos. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"A lighthearted and captivating romp through Hollywood's golden age... [McPherson] captures Keaton's antic, madcap energy."
--The New York Times Book Review
"In this spiffy new biography, McPherson is especially good at describing the ingenuity at the heart of Keaton's career... McPherson evokes [Keaton's work] with insight and enthusiasm."
--The Washington Post Book World"One of Hollywood's funniest filmmakers--that's the Buster Keaton we remember today, and McPherson nicely reminds us of how he got that way."
--The Wall Street Journal
"McPherson is right on the money throughout this admirably brief book ... there is no gainsaying the vigour in McPherson's analyses of Keaton's art."