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USA 1928
Directed by
Charles F. Reisner
70 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Steamboat Bill Jr

Developed from a story by Carl Harbaugh, Steamboat Bill Jr was co-written, co-produced, and co-directed by Buster Keaton for his producer brother-in-law, Joseph Schenk, although Keaton only took credit for acting.

Keaton plays William Canfield Jr. the  son of Mississippi riverboat captain, William Canfield Sr (Ernest Torrence). A rival John King (Tom McGuire) is taking all the business and Dad hopes that his  his Boston college-educated son who he has not seen for many years will help him beat off the opposition. But the captain is disappointed when his son turns out to be a citified fop. 

Silent comedies are well-known for their clever sight gags but the amazing extended cyclone sequence in Steamboat Bill Jr that virtually destroys the town of River Junction but leaves Bill Jr untouched is ample evidence that only a craftsman of Keaton's calibre could have choreographed such superbly physical comedy. Generally acknowledged as Keaton's last great film and, indeed, one of the last of the silent comedies (the talkies were to appear the next year and Keaton, like so many of his peers, did not make the transition) it still holds up well today and is more purely comedic than the film widely regarded as his finest hour, The General (1927).




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