The Great Buster - A Celebration
The thirty or so two-reel shorts, in addition to the ten full-length feature films, acted in (and directed by) Buster Keaton at the height of his creativity in the 1920s, rank among the glories of silent cinema, and one can never visit them too often.
After 1928, when Keaton left his studio and moved over to MGM (‘the worst mistake in my life’), the quality of his output declined steeply. Divorce, alcoholism and general collapse followed this move, until the ‘rescue’ of his later years initiated by Chaplin, who gave him an important role in his film Limelight (1951).
The story of Keaton’s fall and recovery is well-known, but it is good to hear it told again with authority. American director Peter Bogdanovich dedicates a documentary to the “Great Buster” that benefits from new archive discoveries, from this own professional expertise in the matter of comedy and timing, and an appreciative cast of witnesses, including Mel Brooks, Werner Herzog, and Quentin Tarantino.
Peter Bogdanovich started out his career as an actor, theater director and writer. In 1966, he be-gan working in movies as Roger Corman’s assistant on "The Wild Angel"s. It was Corman who financed Bogdanovich’s first film as director-writer-producer-actor: the 1968 cult thriller "Targets", starring Boris Karloff. In the following years Bogdanovich created a number of successful films as writer and director, including the AFI-commissioned documentary “Directed by John Ford” (1971), the period drama "The Last Picture Show" (1971), the romantic comedy What’s Up, Doc? (1972) and the comedy-drama "Paper Moon" (1973). The next two decades saw Bogdanovich direct a number of high-profile, star-filled productions, among them the musical comedy "At Long Last Love" (1975); the romantic comedy "They All Laughed" (1981); the biographical drama "Mask" (1985) and "Texasville" (1990). In 2014, Bogdanovich co-wrote and directed "She’s Funny that Way". In addition, he worked with producer Frank Marshall on completing the restoration and editing of "The Other Side of the Wind", the uncompleted film by Orson Welles shot between 1970 and 1976 in which Bogdanovich co-stars. It premiered in the fall of 2018.