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Perhaps no other film offers as exciting a rollercoaster ride through the golden age of comedy than Buster Keaton's Sherlock Jr. (Dir. Buster Keaton. U.S. 1924. B&W. 44 mins. Music by The Club Foot Orchestra.). Dramatizing the uprorious exploits of a meek theater projectionist turned amateur sleuth, the film blends the knockabout physical comedy normally associated with more subtly crafted moments of humor -- such as the sequence in which Buster leaps through the silver screen and lands in the midst of the action. Packed within its modest 45 minutes is enough comic material for several ordinary features, but Keaton chooses to compress it all into a dazzling display of cinematic inventiveness that races along like the driver-less motorcycle hurtling through a traffic-clogged city in the film's unforgettable climax -- with a stone-faced Buster perched obliviously on the handlebars. Also featured are two short films which Keaton not only acted in but wrote and directed (with his usual collaborator, Eddie Cline), and which exemplify the complexity and sublimity of his unique filmmaking style. This DVD also features the wonderful film Our Hospitality (Dir. Buster Keaton, Eddie Cline. U.S. 1923. B&W. 75 mins. Musical score compiled by Donald Hunsberger). In many ways a companion piece to his 1926 classic The General, it stars Keaton as a New York man who returns to his southern antebellum homeland to find himself embroiled in a longstanding feud between his family and that of the woman he loves. What might have been an ordinary comedy of manners is transformed into a spectacle of visual surprises, with no farcicial opportunity left unexploited. The sequence in which Buster travels southward by rinky-dink locomotive is a most sublime example of the director's craft -- a truly astonishing series of comic vignettes that represents but a tiny portion of the extraordinary talent that characterizes the Art of Buster Keaton.

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KI123 Our Hospitality/Sherlock Jr. DVD (1923-24/Buster Keaton) $24.95 $22.45