Friday Video: The Bother and The Law

Two new Buster Keaton books and a 100 year-old classic silent film

I’ve been a Buster Keaton fan since forever, and one of the better things to happen in early 2022 is that two Buster Keaton books have published. Both of them are excellent while taking different approaches to Keaton’s live.

CAMERA MAN: Buster Keaton, the Dawn of Cinema, and the Invention of the Twentieth Century by Dana Stevens is more of a cultural history than a comprehensive biography. Stevens gives Keaton’s life a context by placing different events of his life and examining the historical events and cultural forces at play at the same time as those events. It’s a fascinating Buster Keaton as both a man of his times and an artist who transcend his times. You can find out more and order the book here.

BUSTER KEATON: A Filmmaker’s Life by James Curtis is a more traditional biography, but that doesn’t diminish its glory. I’ve read dozens of books on Buster Keaton and I’m currently only partway through this one, but so far it seems the best researched of the lot. Of course, the shape and trajectory remains the same, but Curtis has uncovered facts and events that I’ve never seen before and he shows admirable restraint in not leaping to conclusions about Keaton and his friends and family that the way that some other writers have. Visit the book’s page here for more information and links where you can make a purchase.

And here’s COPS, the first Buster Keaton film I ever saw on the family 26-inch television, way back in those far-flung days when cable television in the Los Angeles market meant you were watching SelecTV. I’ve seen this on the big screen a few times since, and even a couple time with live musical accompaniment, but the first time I saw this was exhilarating and dizzying. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have over the years.