Books and Movies Reviews

Steamboat Bill Jr.

“Steamboat Bill Jr.” produced in 1928 stars one of the best silent comedians of all time, Buster Keaton.This film contains some of the best and most spectacular sight gags that have ever been performed before.It is the story of Keaton playing a college-educated young man (Willie or Bill Jr.) who comes home to help his father (Bill Sr.) work on his Mississippi River steamboat.Bill Sr. soon realizes that his son is complete let down only being half the man he is, yet Bill Sr. is still determined to make a man out of his son.What is worse, the woman he falls for is the daughter of his father’s worst rival, a rich bully by the name of J.J. King, who wants to drive Bill Sr.;s steamboat out of business.Keaton’s slapstick is inspired and precise, particularly during an amazing sequence in which he tries to walk across town during a hurricane.The film, “Steamboat Bill Jr.” has many comically pleasing techniques that Keaton brings to the screen, however it can be questionable if this film is a part of classical cinema.
Unlike Chaplin's “Little Tramp,” Keaton avoids the pathos, as he never cries out for sympathy.The audience does not need to be charmed into identifying with him.The peaceful blankness of his face is like an empty screen onto which the viewers can project their own hopes and fears.Like the audience, Keaton himself is an observer.He does not seem to rush blindly into action, he waits, watches, considers, taking in everything around him; this was his secret within the movie.This is shown while Keaton waits patiently in the jail to inform his father (Bill Sr.) of his plan to break him out of jail by using the files and the saws that he baked within the bread.As Keaton finally gets the attention of his father, and informs him of the plan, things just fall apart (especially the bread) leaving his future plans in disaster and leaving the audience in tears.It is scenarios like these within the film t…

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