A Few Words About A few words about...™ Buster Keaton Collection -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Dec 10, 2012.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Finally, with College (1927), the release of Kino Lorber's Blu-ray's of Buster Keaton's non-studio work, comes to a close. And along with that final film, a boxed set, which encompasses the entire Kino / Keaton library, inclusive of shorts.

    I'd like to be able to say that the boxed set is a great buy, it's currently listed at $245 at Amazon, which means that College comes along for $15 more than purchasing the films separately. As is Amazon's M.O., the price may decrease when the set is released. So the discount for purchasing the box isn't huge. What is huge is the important of the films found within, which are worth far more than the price of admission.

    A couple of things are at play here. There are some interesting Holiday gift packages for the cinephile for 2012,, but few for the aficionado of the silent cinema. For that purpose, this set will stand out. The downside is that for the serious collector, I'd be willing to bet that many of the single releases are already in libraries.

    For those who don't have these films, the boxed set is a blessing, as it enables collectors to have all of the films in one place -- public domain as well as those still under copyright. Interestingly, copyright seems to have little function over quality. For those who already have many of the films, College will be made available as a separate release next year.

    This is an important boxed set, which along with the standard def TCM release of Keaton's M-G-M films, allows us to study the work of a master again and again.

    Image and audio (music track) quality on these film varies hugely, especially when you get back to the shorts. Even in the feature library, most elements appear to be derived from prints of varying quality. Also, the later releases seem to have been handled better for HD mastering, with far fewer digital artifacts. The scores go from reasonable and ordinary to the sublime (Carl Davis).

    Image - 1.5 - 3.5 (average 2.75)

    Some of the greatest films every created.

    Very Highly Recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

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    It's worth noting that College will be getting a separate release in 2013 for those who bought these titles separately.
     
  3. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp
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    Nice to see this get a thumbs up for those of us who haven't bought the singles. I always meant to buy the "Art Of Buster Keaton" set on DVD and never did. I blind bought this bluray set. It's currently on Amazon.ca for $209. I'm not sure what shipping is for the states, but that's not a terrible price for it. It works out to about $14 per disc I guess?

    Thanks too RAH for pointing out the earlier TCM archives disc. I'll have to find a copy of that to add to this set. "The Cameraman" is the only Keaton film I think I've seen, other then clips from documentaries.
     
  4. Deepak Shenoy

    Deepak Shenoy Supporting Actor

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    ImportCDs had this for $143 during their 10% off sale. At that price I took the plunge although I already had quite a few (but not all) of the individual releases. It is nice to be able to have all the titles in one compact set (when I sell the individual titles I may end up losing quite a bit of $$ in the bargain but it is worth it at least for me)
    -D
     
  5. David_B_K

    David_B_K Advanced Member

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    Good news anout COLLEGE. That is the only one I lack.
     
  6. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    Steamboat Bill Jr is the disappointment in this set. The DVD wasn't as washed out and it had a much better score. Sherlock Jr is the opposite. The bluray is vastly superior to the DVD, which had a hideous score.
     
  7. Bryan^H

    Bryan^H Producer

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    Thanks Robert.
    I live in Muskegon Michigan, home to the Actors' Colony where Keaton spent happy summers growing up.
    http://www.actorscolony.com/
    Downtown Muskegon at the Frauenthal theater each Fall we have Buster Keaton film festival. And while it has been going for quite a few years, I have never attended. Matter of fact, I have never even watched a Keaton film, or short. I have heard many great things about Buster Keaton, and I may purchase this set as a trustworthy blind buy.
    Here is a photo of the Keaton statue that went up a few years ago outside the Frauenthal theater:
     
  8. kingofthejungle

    kingofthejungle Stunt Coordinator

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    Bryan,
    As someone who has lately discovered Keaton, I say go for it! Start with Sherlock Jr., and then work your way through his whole catalog...the man was a cinematic genius.
    Sherlock Jr. is a film I use to introduce fans of modern cinema (read: post-1985) to silents. They start wary of the idea of watching a black & white film with no sound, but by the end they're usually hanging on every second of film, alternately laughing and staring slack-jawed in 'how'd he do that' amazement until the final frame.
    I can't wait this to arrive. I bought it the importcds sale, and at a mere $143, I know it will be worth every penny.
     
  9. Bryan^H

    Bryan^H Producer

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    I think I will. Thanks for the recommendation.
    I actually like silent films, and wish the Laurel and Hardy silent films were available( I have the talkies on that great dvd set that was released a couple years ago).
     
  10. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp
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    In case anyone from a studio or release company is following this, add me to the list of those wanting a silent film Laurel and Hardy set. I agree with Bryan, that talkie set was great.
     
  11. JoHud

    JoHud Producer

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    I'm not even sure a company owns the silent L&H films. I've been under the impression they somehow got privately licensed to an individual/collector who hasn't done much with them. Image was allowed to release them back in the day, but since those went out of print and were never reissued, it's safe to say they're out of Image's hands. It also doesn't seem the UCLA restorations extend to the silent features.
     
  12. Mark Oates

    Mark Oates Supporting Actor

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    The L&H silents are still available in R2, if getting scarce.
     
  13. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    I am about half way through the set for my review which I hope to have posted this week. Do any silent cinema buffs reading this know the ins and outs of the proper frame rates for these films. The majority of the material in the set seems to be presented at 24 fps in 1080p, but there are also a number of titles (such as "One Week" from the Short Films Collection) that are 1080i. In that particular case I read an interview with a Kino representative who indicated that they had done that transfer a couple of years before most of the others and now considered it to run a bit slow at 30 fps. I do not believe that same reasoning applies for other films presented 1080i 30fps such as "Three Ages" and "Our Hospitality", but I do not have a proper reference.
     
  14. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Many early silent films were cranked at 16 - 18 fps. By the mid-1920s, 20 was the norm. For example, Napoleon plays best at 20. Certain films, ie some of the Fairbanks productions were filmed at one speed, and meant for projection a bit faster. Keaton may have done the same thing.
    But 30?
     
  15. Paul Penna

    Paul Penna Supporting Actor

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    Among aficionados, the matter of projection speed for silents can be every bit as contentious as any of the warfare-inducing issues common to home video discussions, right up there with aspect ratios, DVD-R vs. pressed and "why should it cost so much?" In my case, I'm of the opinion that silents were generally expected to be projected faster than filmed, though of course that leaves a lot of wiggle-room over how much faster and what "generally" means. I think the case of silent comedy is more clear-cut; "natural" speed, though it can often allow closer study of facial expressions and body movement, usually comes at the expense of the humor. While watching the Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle sound short "Buzzin' Around" from 1933 in the recent Warner Archive Comedy Collection, I noted that all the non-dialog sequences, i.e. those relying solely on silent comedy, were under-cranked. Frequently, these were closely interspersed with sound segments in the same scene. You might think this would come across as jarring, but to me it wasn't at all; the physical schtick just came across as funny. Now perhaps one could argue that was done to deliberately give a nostalgic, old-fashioned, good-old-days-of-slapstick-comedy feel, but what it told me was that these veterans were employing a tried-and-true technique that they knew worked.
     
  16. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    Because of the way the blu-ray format was designed, films that run at non-standard frame rates (not 24, 25, or 30) have to be interlaced for blu-ray. This is the reason that many silent films are 1080i instead of 1080p. There is nothing wrong with interlacing if it is done properly for the right reason. I'm sure Kino has carefully chosen the speeds. Non standard frame rates are more likely for comedy shorts with hand cranked cameras than later dramas with mechanical camera drives.
     
  17. Brandon Conway

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    Well said. Criterion has also gone 1080i on some of their silent releases for this reason.
     
  18. Malcolm Bmoor

    Malcolm Bmoor Stunt Coordinator

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    I've heard several hundred hours of 1960s & 1970s recordings of interviews with then survivors of the Silent Era and one fact that further confuses establishing projection speed is that high shooting frame rates were adopted in an attempt to frustrate projection rates higher than normal by exhibitors anxious to increase the number of showings.
     
  19. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    In many cases, the proper frame rate is established via the orchestrations.

    Back c. 1981-2, I found a treasure trove of parts in the basement of an old theatre. Great stuff.

    RAH
     
  20. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    FYI - The frame rate for "Our Hospitality" and "Three Ages" appears to be 22 fps. The frame rate for "One Week" appears to be 18 fps.
     

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