The Cohen Media Group release brings us these silent classics in as good a condition as we’re ever likely to see. Recommended! 4 Stars

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The Buster Keaton Collection Volume 3 Blu-ray Review
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Robert Harris

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Matt,

Is Cohen publicizing these as 1.37? That’s mid-‘30s sound.
 

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My first Buster Keaton film I ever saw was Seven Chances. When I was a teen I saw on tv Robert Youngson's The 4 Clowns (1970) which had Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Charley Chase and Buster Keaton in a shorted version of Seven Chances. Since then I became a Buster Keaton fan and have most everything on disc and this one I will add to my collection.
 
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Matt,

Is Cohen publicizing these as 1.37? That’s mid-‘30s sound.
No, that was a guess on my part. That's why I didn't include any specific info in the video write-up. I have to check something in that aspect ratio check-list or it won't publish.
 

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I noticed that upcoming this week on TCM is Buster Keaton day in Summer Under the Stars. Both of these films are included in the day-long tribute as well as his feature film masterpieces described in the review. For those who don't have the discs recently released by Cohen, this is a way to sample the very best of Buster Keaton (I have no idea which transfers they'll be showing, but it'll be interesting to see).
 

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I noticed that upcoming this week on TCM is Buster Keaton day in Summer Under the Stars. Both of these films are included in the day-long tribute as well as his feature film masterpieces described in the review. For those who don't have the discs recently released by Cohen, this is a way to sample the very best of Buster Keaton (I have no idea which transfers they'll be showing, but it'll be interesting to see).
TCM is also showing Peter Bogdanovich's new documentary on Buster at 8 p.m. (and again later in the evening in a rebroadcast). Excerpts from it and the trailer for the documentary are included on this disc.
 
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Matt, could you please be a little more specific about the Technicolor sequence at the beginning of Seven Chances? Is it "restored" in any way? Do original elements even exist for it? What does it look like? Thanks! I love this movie!
 

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Matt, could you please be a little more specific about the Technicolor sequence at the beginning of Seven Chances? Is it "restored" in any way? Do original elements even exist for it? What does it look like? Thanks! I love this movie!
A card before the movie begins discusses the Technicolor sequence and what was used to get the final image, but I don't remember exactly what it said. From what I could see, it looks good but not great with color clouding on the left edge of the frame as I mentioned and not especially fully saturated in the two-color Technicolor.

BTW, for those who are interested, those Keaton films are scheduled for Monday (tomorrow) on TCM.
 
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For the restoration of Battling Butler thirteen elements were inspected and analyzed: eight of those – from the Cohen Film Collection and Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique – were digitized and compared. Upon inspection it was confirmed that the first generation positive print preserved by the Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique was struck from a B-negative (none US distribution) and therefore not used for reconstruction. Four elements were finally selected for restoration: the original camera negative, two positive prints (one vintage and one from 1940s) and one second generation duplicate negative, all preserved by Cohen Film Collection. The latter was used, whenever possible, to replace portions that were missing in the original negative, namely the entirety of reel 1, and portions in every reel with the exception of reel 3. Colour grading used the amber tinted vintage print as a reference: this choice was confirmed by the information reported in the middle tails of the original negative. Opening cards were re-edited to match the vintage print.

For the restoration of Seven Chances we inspected and analysed 25 elements: 16 of those – from the Cohen Film Collection, The Library of Congress, the Cinémathèque française, the CNC – Archives françaises du film – were digitised and compared. For the 2-strip Technicolor opening titles three elements were digitised and compared at the colour grading unit: a decayed original positive nitrate print (44662- 2), an internegative (RR8152), and an interpositive (BND26/Sections). The latter two resulted from a restoration carried out in the Nineties which used the original positive nitrate print. At that time, the nitrate was in a better state of preservation than it is today, allowing the creation of good intermediate elements. Eventually the previous restored interpositive was chosen due to the better response at colour grading. The nitrate positive was used only for one opening title card since the others were not original. The film reconstruction used a first-generation amber-tinted positive nitrate preserved at the Library of Congress. One shot with a significant number of missing frames was completed from a second generation safety duplicate negative (RR815) held by The Cohen Film Collection. The decision to keep the amber tint was dictated by the matching label codes of the positive nitrate and Technicolor prints’ prologue.
As an additional note: comparison showed that two elements – a safety duplicate negative preserved by the Cohen Film Collection and a safety positive preserved at the Cinémathèque française – include four shots which derive from a second negative.
 

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For the restoration of Battling Butler thirteen elements were inspected and analyzed: eight of those – from the Cohen Film Collection and Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique – were digitized and compared. Upon inspection it was confirmed that the first generation positive print preserved by the Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique was struck from a B-negative (none US distribution) and therefore not used for reconstruction. Four elements were finally selected for restoration: the original camera negative, two positive prints (one vintage and one from 1940s) and one second generation duplicate negative, all preserved by Cohen Film Collection. The latter was used, whenever possible, to replace portions that were missing in the original negative, namely the entirety of reel 1, and portions in every reel with the exception of reel 3. Colour grading used the amber tinted vintage print as a reference: this choice was confirmed by the information reported in the middle tails of the original negative. Opening cards were re-edited to match the vintage print.

For the restoration of Seven Chances we inspected and analysed 25 elements: 16 of those – from the Cohen Film Collection, The Library of Congress, the Cinémathèque française, the CNC – Archives françaises du film – were digitised and compared. For the 2-strip Technicolor opening titles three elements were digitised and compared at the colour grading unit: a decayed original positive nitrate print (44662- 2), an internegative (RR8152), and an interpositive (BND26/Sections). The latter two resulted from a restoration carried out in the Nineties which used the original positive nitrate print. At that time, the nitrate was in a better state of preservation than it is today, allowing the creation of good intermediate elements. Eventually the previous restored interpositive was chosen due to the better response at colour grading. The nitrate positive was used only for one opening title card since the others were not original. The film reconstruction used a first-generation amber-tinted positive nitrate preserved at the Library of Congress. One shot with a significant number of missing frames was completed from a second generation safety duplicate negative (RR815) held by The Cohen Film Collection. The decision to keep the amber tint was dictated by the matching label codes of the positive nitrate and Technicolor prints’ prologue.
As an additional note: comparison showed that two elements – a safety duplicate negative preserved by the Cohen Film Collection and a safety positive preserved at the Cinémathèque française – include four shots which derive from a second negative.
This is absolutely fascinating!! I wish more people could post stuff like this!!
 

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I purchased this as part of the Target 20% sale a month or so ago and it shipped today ... it should be in my hands sometime this year ... hopefully
 
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No, that was a guess on my part. That's why I didn't include any specific info in the video write-up. I have to check something in that aspect ratio check-list or it won't publish.
If forced to work with presumptions, you might be best served to use the following:

Silent films shot on 35mm - 1.33:1

Early sound films with disc - 1.33:1, unless derived from matted dupe

Early sound films with optical tracks - 1.19:1

Sound films post Academy - 1.37:1
 

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I watched Peter Bogdanovich's documentary on Buster Keaton this afternoon (recorded from TCM last night). It's a thorough and loving tribute, and I really enjoyed it, but naturally it can only hint at the greatness found in his films. You have to experience the WHOLE thing in each case to fully comprehend his genius.
 

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Have the documentary on my dvr and will watch it soon. Saw some of How to Stuff a Wild Bikini and Buster was funny playing the witch doctor Bwana.
 

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The above screen shot is from the two-color Technicolor sequence from the Kino Blu-ray of Seven Chances. I wonder if the Cohen version is any better? Apparently the sequence was 275 feet in length on cemented prints. 340 prints were made in 1924. The movie opened at the Capitol in New York on March 25, 1925. (I couldn't do a frame grab, so the shot is from my Panasonic 4K OLED.)
 
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