Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Steamboat Bill, Jr.


I was looking through recommendations at Netflix and happened on a Buster Keaton title. I clicked on it, and noticed the user rating was a staggering 5.0 out of 5. They direct you to other films and they had eight of them, the lowest rating being a 4.1. This is very high for Netflix, especially for films made 80 or more years ago. It reminded me of just how good this man was. He was better than Chaplin, most of the time. Physically, he took chances that would make a modern stunt man break out in a cold sweat. Emotionally, he never crossed the line into almost-pandering, as Chaplin sometimes did.

I completely agree with everything he has to say.) Steamboat Bill Jr. is one of his best. No sense dealing with the plot, which is pretty standard, and you can’t really describe his incredible physical comedy, except to say that the tornado that sweeps through town at the end is stunning, even today. Better than a piece of crap like Twister. You will actually gasp at the famous scene where the building falls on him … and he’s standing exactly where the second-floor window opening hits. I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars, but he did it in one take, refusing to do a test because it would waste a prop wall. So I have seven other Keaton films in my Netflix queue, and will be watching them over the next months. You should, too.