|BUSTER KEATON: SO FUNNY IT HURT (TV) (director/writer: Kevin Brownlow/Christopher Bird; editor: Christopher Bird; cast: James Karen (Narrator); Runtime: 38; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Patrick Stanbury; TCM; 2014)|
|"Enriching documentary that tells
how Buster Keaton's career was killed when in
1928, while he was the king of the comics, he
signed with MGM a five year deal."
by Dennis Schwartz
film historian Kevin Brownlow and documentarian
Christopher Bird co-direct a hard-hitting,
enriching documentary that tells how Buster Keaton's
career was killed when in 1928, while he was the king
of the comics, he signed with MGM a lucrative five
year deal and it ended with him unemployable. It
chronicles how the rigid MGM studio system, demanding
complete control of any project, was enforced by
studio head Louis B. Mayer and top creative executive
Irving Thalberg. They just wanted Buster to perform
and gave him no creative input into his roles. As
Keaton's friend and narrator James Karen states, they
ruined the comic genius who worked best when making it
up as he went along. Their insistence that Buster do
wisecrack dialogue instead of his forte action comedy,
was to his detriment.
period was a bad time for Buster, whose wife Natalie
Talmadge divorced him and took custody of the children
and their villa. The studio and personal problems led
to Buster becoming a drunk. Fortunately in 1940 he
married the right woman and stayed happily married
until his death in 1965.
archival footage of Buster's films from 1928 to 1933,
that include The Cameraman (1928) and What! No Beer
REVIEWED ON 7/4/2015 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ