Early next month, Cohen Media Group will release its second pairing of classic Buster Keaton movies. The collection will feature Keaton’s 1924 movies Sherlock Jr. and The Navigator. It will also feature a pair of mini-docs – “The Great Stone Face” and “The Comedian” – as bonuses. The collection is scheduled for release on July 9 on Blu-ray. While audiences await its release, they have the first collection of Keaton movies to enjoy in the meantime. Released late last month, the first collection features Keaton’s 1926 movie The General and its 1928 follow-up, Steamboat Bill Jr. Those two movies form the collection’s foundation and will be discussed shortly. The bonus content that is featured alongside the movies builds on the collection’s foundation, strengthening it even more. It will be discussed a little later. The collection’s average price point rounds out its most important elements. It will also be addressed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of The Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 1. All things considered, they make the collection a welcome addition to the library of Buster Keaton fans as well as lovers of Hollywood’s golden age.
Cohen Media Group’s recently released debut volume of Buster Keaton movies is a welcome addition to the library of Buster Keaton fans and lovers of Hollywood’s golden age alike. That is due in part to the movies that are featured in this first film set from the famed actor. The General, as noted in Cohen Media Group’s recently released Buster Keaton doc The Great Buster, is considered to be the last great movie of the silent era. The movie’s story centers on Keaton’s character Johnnie Gray (the name is a connection to the movie’s Civil War backdrop), who has to chase down a group of Union soldiers who steal his engine, “The General” as part of their plans to invade an unidentified town in Tennessee. Adding to the intrigue is that Johnnie has to save his girlfriend (played by Marion Mack), as she was kidnapped by the soldiers in the process of the engine’s highjacking. The story has a happy ending that will not be given away here, though it will be said that along with lots of drama and action, Keaton’s timeless physical comedy is present throughout the story. That alone offers its own share of interest and entertainment for viewers.
The collection’s second movie, Steamboat Bill Jr. presents another romance at its core. The difference here from The General is that the story this time is more rom-com than romantic drama. This time, Buster plays the role of a young man named Bill Jr. who is the son of a riverboat captain. After spending much of his time life in Boston, Bill Jr. comes south to reunite with his father, leading to an entertaining odd couple style story within itself. That is just one of the stories featured within the movie. The movie’s overarching story is a Romeo and Juliet-inspired work that finds Bill’s father and the father of his love interest fighting one another. The result is that the two dads refuse to let the two young star-crossed lovers from being together. The difference between Shakespeare’s story and this story is that it doesn’t end with the lovers taking their own lives. Rather it ends with a happy ending that comes after a hurricane causes lots of damage to the town where the two families are living. The storm also creates lots of opportunities for Keaton to present even more, his physical comedy chops. Between the entertainment offered through Keaton’s physical comedy and the entertainment and engagement offered in the story, the whole of this work is just as enjoyable as The General. Both movies considered, they create a foundation for this collection that in itself gives viewers more than enough reason to own the collection. They are collectively just one of the set’s positives. The bonus content featured with the collection creates its own engagement and entertainment for viewers.
The bonus content that is featured in The Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 1 offers insight from a variety of famed figures on The General and Keaton’s brand of comedy. The commentary offered in both featurettes is taken from the previously noted doc, The Great Buster. Famed director Quentin Tarntino offers one of the most interesting discussions in the retrospective of The General. He notes that while the movie’s backdrop is that of the civil war, it is the only period piece of its kind that allows him to put behind him the whole North v. South element and instead just focus on the more central story of Johnnie’s quest to retrieve his engine and his girlfriend. That is really interesting in hindsight, especially considering how many period pieces Hollywood has churned out since its golden age. So many of those period pieces have forced their backdrops to become central to the stories, essentially taking the focus off of the stories themselves. The General does the exact opposite. That is why it is so enjoyable.
In regards to the commentary centered on Keaton’s physical comedy, this featurette offers just as much engagement and entertainment as the featurette centered on The General. Comedian Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live, The Skeleton Twins, Inside Out) offers an anecdote about Keaton’s movies bringing him and his daughters together. He notes his daughters are no older than teenagers. That in itself is quite enlightening as it shows the reach of Keaton’s appeal. Tarantino is also featured in this featurette. He notes in his discussion this time, the influence that Keaton had on another famed actor, none other than Jackie Chan. He notes Chan’s decision to do his own stunts came from watching Keaton’s work. Yet another figure notes the power in the simplicity of Keaton’s brand of comedy. That individual is right, too. There is nothing overdone in any of Keaton’s acting. That is obvious in watching both movies. It proves the KISS method does work. The items featured here are just some of the discussions included in The Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 1’s bonus content. Between these discussions and others included in the featurettes, the whole of the bonus content adds even more reason for viewers to check out this single-disc collection. When it is collectively considered alongside the movies that form the collection’s foundation, the elements together, make this collection that much more appealing for Keaton’s fans and those of Hollywood’s golden age. When all of that is considered together, the average price point of the set proves to be money well spent.
The average price-point of The Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 1 is $23.53 on Blu-ray and $18.67 on DVD. Those prices were reached using listings at Amazon, Wal-amrt, Target, Best Buy and Barnes & Noble Booksellers. The title was not listed on either format at Books-A-Million. The DVD platform was not listed at Walmart. Considering that audiences will get all of the same primary and secondary content on DVD and Blu-ray, both prices are relatively affordable. AT the time of this review’s posting, the listing of $22.99 at the stores of Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy is below the Blu-ray’s average price point while the $24.29 price listed at Target and Barnes & Noble Booksellers is more expensive. Amazon, Target and Best Buy all list the collection’s DVD price point at $17.99 while Barnes & Noble Booksellers lists the DVD at $20.70, well above the average price point of $18.67. The other prices are just below, so simply put, consumers are given plenty of affordable options if they consider purchasing the collection on either platform. Again, both platforms offer audiences all of the same primary and secondary content. Keeping that in mind, the money paid (hopefully at the less expensive retailers) will be money well-spent for Keaton’s fans and fans of movies made during Hollywood’s golden age. That is proven even more when this is considered alongside the already noted content. All things considered, this new classic film collection featuring one of Hollywood’s greatest names, proves to be a must have for classic film buffs everywhere.
Cohen Media Group’s recently released Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 1 is a welcome addition to the libraries of Buster Keaton fans and classic film buffs in general. That is due in no small part to the movies that are featured in the collection. The bonus content featured with the movies adds even more for audiences to enjoy. The single-disc collection’s average price point is affordable money well-spent on DVD and Blu-ray, considering the breadth and depth of the set’s collective primary and secondary content. Each item is important in its own way to the whole of the collection’s presentation. All things considered, they make The Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 1 one of this year’s best new DVDs/BDs for the family and a must have for Buster Keaton fans and classic movie buffs everywhere. More information on this and other titles from Cohen Media Group is available online now at:
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