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Battling Butler/Go West [2 Discs] [DVD]

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$19.99
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Overview

Special Features

  • Go West (1923, 12 Min.), a western-themed comedy short produced by Hal Roach, starring the "Dippy Do Dads," a troupe of trained monkeys
  • A rare 60-minute audio recording of Buster Keaton hashing out a script proposal for the western TV series "Wagon Train" (courtesy of Bob Borgen)
  • Excerpts of the screenplay for an unproduced remake of Battling Butler, written by keaton in 1947
  • Gallery of photographs from the 1922 stage production of Battling Butler
  • Two galleries of production stills

Synopsis

Go West
With this delightful film, Buster Keaton rivals Charlie Chaplin for comic poetry and pathos. Keaton's character, known only as Friendless, is a Midwestern boy who is down on his luck. After an abortive attempt to get by in the city, he follows Horace Greeley's advice to "Go West, young man!" As a result, Friendless winds up on a cattle ranch and is about the most unlikely cowboy imaginable (in fact, he never does trade in his porkpie hat for a ten-gallon). Various bits of comic business abound; standouts include the milking scene and a card game in which Friendless accuses a player of cheating. The sharpie tells The Great Stone Face "When you say that -- smile!" More importantly, Friendless finds true love -- not with the rancher's daughter (Kathleen Myers) but with Brown Eyes, a cow who seems nearly as out of place in the herd as Friendless does on the ranch. Cow and boy become devoted, but Brown Eyes is headed for the slaughterhouse. Friendless resolves to rescue her, sneaking on the train that's taking her and thousands of other cattle to the Los Angeles station. The herd escapes from the cattle cars at the destination and runs amok through downtown L.A.; it is then up to Friendless to round them up. Look closely during the hilarious stampede scene -- Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle plays a part in drag, and Keaton's father also has a bit in a barber shop. With the help of a costume shop, Friendless saves the day...and his cow. Go West is Keaton's most heartfelt film, and certainly one of his most underrated. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

Battling Butler
Battling Butler has to be the strangest of Buster Keaton's silent features. Based on the musical comedy of the same name, the film casts Keaton as wimpy millionaire Alfred Butler, who goes on a vacation in the mountains in the company of his faithful valet (Snitz Edwards). While communing with nature, Alfred falls in love with a beautiful young girl (Sally O'Neil), who barely acknowledges his existence. Without his master's knowledge, the valet tries to smooth the path of romance by telling the girl that Alfred is, in reality, boxing champion Battling Butler (Francis McDonald). The real champ, a mean-spirited sort, gets wind of this deception and decides to allow Alfred to continue the charade, fully intending to mop the floor with the puny millionaire in the boxing ring. But on the night of the big fight, Alfred suddenly gets tired of being pushed around and turns into a savage opponent, leaving the bullying Butler positively groggy. At this point our hero discovers that the girl would have loved him whether he was Battling Butler or not, and all ends well. Played as traditional Keaton comedy for most of its running time, Battling Butler goes dramatic with a vengeance in the climactic fight scene, with Keaton really giving his ring opponent a going over. The final scene is all the more powerful because it is so completely unexpected; if it surprises today's audiences, one can only imagine the effect it had on Buster Keaton's fans way back in 1926. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Buster Keaton
    Buster Keaton - Friendless
  • Image coming soon
    Howard Truesdell - The Ranch Owner
  • Image coming soon
    Kathleen Myers - The Ranch Owner's Daughter
Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.