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The Saphead: Ultimate Edition [Blu-ray]

4.0 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

In his first starring role (and the film that launched his career), Buster Keaton stars in The Saphead 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, at the altar of matrimony, and even on the floor of the American stock exchange. The Saphead was instrumental in establishing Keaton as a bona fide star and greatly influenced his formulation of the Buster persona: a lonely, stone-faced soul thwarted by circumstance yet undauntedly resourceful and indefatigable in his struggle for love and survival within a chaotic world.

BONUS FEATURES: Loaded with special features including an alternate version of the film and more (TBD).

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Buster Keaton, Edward Jobson, Bealah Booker, Edward Connelly
  • Directors: Herbert Blache, Wincell Smith
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, NTSC, Silent
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: July 10, 2012
  • Run Time: 77 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007UQ8ITM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,928 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Saphead: Ultimate Edition [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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