Thursday, October 22, 2009

42. Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928)

Running Time: 69 minutes
Directed By: Buster Keaton, Charles Reisner
Written By: Carl Harbaugh
Main Cast: Buster Keaton, Tom McGuire, Ernest Torrence, Tom Lewis, Marion Byron


It is with great sadness that I watch my final Buster Keaton film in the book, Steamboat Bill Jr. While this film may have been my favorite so far, I'll definitely miss Buster Keaton's work for a while and while I do enjoy taking this journey through cinema so much, one of the things I'll look forward to, when its over is going back and watching the Keaton that I have yet to see.

One day, while wrapping up a hard days work on his river boat, Stonewall Jackson, Steamboat Bill Sr. receives a telegram telling him that his son, Steamboat Bill Jr., is coming to town and wishes to see his father. Bill Sr. hasn't seen his son in quite sometime and is ready to welcome his son with open arms into the heart of Mississippi.

When junior arrives in town, Bill Sr. is quite surprised to learn that his son is lacking many of the manly qualities that he himself possesses. Wearing a beret and sporting a pencil thin moustache, Bill Jr. is happy to see his Dad and tags along when Bill Sr. takes him to get a shave and some new attire. In one scene, the Bills go hat shopping, as Sr. looks to replace Jr. beret with something more southern and one of the funniest scenes of the movie.

Steamboat Bill Sr.'s rival is Mr. King, who also owns a river boat, along with half of the town and looks to put Bill Sr. out of commission. When Steamboat Bill Jr. falls head over heels in love with Mr. King's daughter, Bill Sr. forbids it, claiming that he'll find Junior his wife and "she won't be the daughter of a man like King".

Steamboat Bill Sr.'s river boat is declared condemned and when he tries to fight it he ends up in the town slammer. Steamboat Bill Jr., already shunned by his father for sneaking off in the night to visit King's daughter, tries to reconcile with his Dad and head's to the jail with a loaf of bread loaded with some breakout tools, in probably my favorite scene of the film. They eventually get loose from the clutches of the Sheriff, but not before a cyclone strolls into town, providing one of the most suspenseful and spectacular Keaton scenes of all his movies I've seen.

After five Keaton films (Our Hospitality, Sherlock Jr., Seven Chances, The General and Steamboat Bill Jr.) this may be my personal favorite of the five. I also enjoyed the hell out of Seven Chances, but really I enjoyed the hell out of them all and had a fantastic time getting to know Keaton, his comedy, his willingness to do anything to entertain, his knack for suspense and his zest to perform in front of the camera. Buster Keaton has not only made it easier for me to take the journey that I'm currently on, but has also provided me with some personal favorite movies that I'll cherish even after my mission ends. I will certainly miss these Keaton films, as its always been something to look forward to and I always knew I was gonna love it, if Buster was in it. I'm sure I'll come across some more favorites as I trot along on my journey. Favorite actors, directors, etc., but I'll never forget my old pal Buster and the loads of laughs and entertainment he provided me, as I made my way through the history of cinema. Thanks Buster.

RATING: 10/10 A nice send off for Keaton, Steamboat Bill Jr. knocked one outta the park...I loved it!

NEXT UP: Storm Over Asia...Should be watched and reviewed later today...But first...some sleep for your courageous journeyman.

October 22, 2009 4:45am


  1. The pieces you did show me from this one look absolutely hilarious, I can't wait to finish my project and watch some of these!

  2. Yep, with you on this one..
    Well, except perhaps down to 9 3/4, but just so General can get the 10
    Why is it I just don't get Chaplin then?? I try.. honestly..

  3. Great film. No more to say really. I find Chaplin amusing to, I just don't like his work as regularly as I like Keaton's. I LOVED every Keaton movie I watched, but wasn't a huge fan of "City Lights" from Chaplin. However, "Modern Times" was one of the best silent comedies I watched...maybe the best.


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