Chicago Film Festival 2018: The Great Buster

1924: American comedian Buster Keaton (1895-1966) armed with only a magnifying glass and a copy of 'How To Be A Detective' hopes to become a great detective in the film 'Sherlock Junior'.

The Great Buster: A Celebration is a well-deserved cinematic tribute to Buster Keaton–one of the greatest silent comedy stars to have ever lived.

Discussing the great silent comedy stars must include Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and Harold Lloyd.  Interestingly, Keaton starred in College as a response to Lloyd’s The Freshman.  Where Lloyd starred as a freshman who played football, Keaton would play every other sport.  As for Chaplin, he directed Keaton in 1952’s Limelight.  This film is historic for one reason alone: the two comedians were paired on screen for the only time in cinematic history.

While director Peter Bogdanovich focuses on Keaton’s entire output, he chooses to focus on the glory years of 1923-1929 towards the end.  These years are important because they are the years that gave us some of the greatest silent comedy films in history.  This includes Sherlock, Jr. (1924), The General (1926) and Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928).  It is because of these films that we consider Keaton to be a comic master.

During his career, he would perform some of the greatest stunts in silent film history.  Cops, a two-reel 18-minute comedy released in 1992, saw Keaton grab a car while on the run.  The most dangerous of Keaton’s stunts would come in Steamboat Bill, Jr.  This was when Keaton was standing when the facade of house fell on him.  Keaton was standing in the exact spot where the attic window was.  While the act has been repeated over the years, one wrong move and it could have been fatal!  As the legendary Mel Brooks puts it, “he either has no fear or he’s crazy.”

With the 100th anniversary of Keaton’s first film approaching in 2020, The Great Buster: A Celebration is a timely documentary.

DIRECTOR:  Peter Bogdanovich
FEATURING:  Dick van Dyke, Johnny Knoxville, Werner Herzog, Quentin Tarantino, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Bill Hader, Richard Lewis, Jon Watts, Nick Kroll, French Stewart, Cybill Shepherd, Paul Dooley, Patty Tobias, Bob Borgen, James Curtis, James Karen, Leonard Maltin, Norman Lloyd, Bill Irwin, Ben Mankiewicz

The Great Buster: A Celebration screens during the 2018 Chicago International Film Festival in the Documentary and Spotlight: Comedy programs. Cohen Media Group opened the film in select theaters on October 5, 2018.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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