The Great Buster | Chicago Reader

The Great Buster

Writer-director Peter Bogdanovich brings his formidable knowledge of movies to bear in this incisive portrait of Buster Keaton, a giant of American cinema, who along with Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin was one of the top comedians of the silent era. As a child in vaudeville, Keaton earned the nickname "Buster" because he took pratfalls so well; scenes from his two-reelers show how this very physical actor refined his technique, but the documentary gives pride of place to the ten independent features Keaton directed before his disastrous move to MGM. A trove of clips from many of his newly restored classics—including his masterpiece, The General—are augmented by archival materials and interviews with comedy pros Dick Van Dyke, Bill Hader, Nick Kroll, Johnny Knoxville, Richard Lewis, and Mel Brooks, who either knew him or his widow, Eleanor, or simply make the case for why Keaton matters.

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