Just in time for the Holidays, Kino has assembled all of their previously released Buster Keaton Blu-ray titles into one efficiently packaged fourteen disc box set with the cherry on top of the sundae being the exclusive (for now) Blu-ray presentation of Keaton’s 1927 feature College. Great care has been taken in properly presenting these films on disc, although Kino’s standard eschewing of most digital clean up tools (not even image stabilization) may prove frustrating to some viewers used to more pristine presentations. The discs are rounded out with a decent collection of extras inclusive of multiple scores, commentaries, still galleries, related theatrical shorts, documentaries, and a few other goodies. Considering the fact that at least seven of the features and more than two thirds of the 1920s shorts are bona-fide classics in the opinion of this reviewer, this is an easy recommendation for those who have not purchased any of the discs separately.
Lost Keaton: Sixteen Comedy Shorts (1934-1937 – Educational Pictures)
After an unhappy half dozen years toiling in the studio system at MGM, Buster returned to independent filmmaking with a series of sixteen two-reel talkies made for the “poverty row” studio Educational Pictures. These shorts were made on a shoestring budget, and only dupey prints seem to remain for many of them. This makes the value added equation for presenting them in high definition somewhat questionable, but they are definitely worth viewing for Buster Keaton aficionados and completists. The individual release of these shorts on Blu-ray was reviewed on the forum by Todd Erwin in March of 2012. Please click the following link to read [url=http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/319345/lost-keaton-sixteen-comedy-shorts-1934-1937-blu-ray-review]Todd Erwin’s thorough review of Kino’s release of Lost Keaton on Blu-ray.
A summation of Todd’s ratings follows:
Films ***, Video ***, Audio ***
Todd’s listing/assessment of the extras on the discs is repeated here for convenience. (Note that his rating was inclusive of the enclosed booklet which I will be describing in the “Packaging” section at the bottom of this review):
Disc One contains Kino’s usual Photo Gallery, consisting of promotional stills from many of the shorts, while Disc Two contains Why They Call Him “Buster” (1:11), a montage of pratfalls and stunts from the 16 shorts that plays more like a trailer for this 2-disc set.
The fourteen discs are enclosed in four “fattened” Blu-ray cases labeled “Volume 1-4”. Each case has a double sided hinged tray with spindle/hubs on either side. The cases for Volume 1 and Volume 2 also include spindle/hubs on the inside front and back covers, allowing for accommodation of four discs with no overlapping. The cases for Volume 3 and Volume 4 each include an additional spindle/hub on the back cover only, allowing for accommodation of three discs with no overlapping. Volume 1 includes an insert eight page booklet by Jeffrey Vance that accompanies the Short Films Collection 1920-1923. It includes an informative essay and short by short production notes. Volume 4 includes an insert eight page booklet by David MacLeod. It includes informative Film Notes for each of the sixteen shorts included in the Lost Keaton set. The discs are contained in a fairly thin cardboard box with a colorized image of a young Keaton on the front cover. The whole set is about the size of 5-6 standard Blu-ray cases, making for efficient storage for fourteen discs representing eleven separate releases.