Lost Keaton: Sixteen Comedy Shorts 1934-37 [2 Discs] [DVD]

This box set from the Kino label brings into a single package an array of two-reel comedy shorts by Buster Keaton that the comic made after his star had slightly fallen. Following a series of enormous personal setbacks, he signed a contract in 1934 with Earle W. Hammons's Educational Pictures, a production house specializing in comedic shorts similar to those produced during his early days; this collection presents sixteen of the finest. Selections, all produced between 1934-7, include: Tars and Stripes (1935), Three on a Limb (1936), Grand Slam Opera (1936), Mixed Magic (1936), Ditto (1937) and many more.
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Special Features

  • Stills gallery
  • Film notes by David Macleod, author of the sound of Buster Keaton
  • "Why they call him buster," a musical montage of pratfalls and stunts


Hayseed Romance
Elmer (Buster Keaton) answers an ad for a handyman job and starts working for an older woman (Jane Jones) and her niece (Dorothea Kent). He gets the impression that his employer wants to marry him, even as he finds himself falling in love with her niece. Elmer talks out his dilemma with himself (in a clever use of double-exposure which puts two Keatons onscreen together) and concludes that he must leave both women. But the aunt catches up with him and takes him at gunpoint to the local preacher. There Elmer discovers she wants him to marry her niece, which he does joyously. ~ Nicole Gagne, Rovi

The Chemist
Palooka from Paducah
Buster Keaton began his career in vaudeville as a child, starring with his father Joe and mother Myra as The Three Keatons. This clever Educational two-reeler reunites the trio and adds Buster's sister Louise in the bargain. They play a family of hill folk that make moonshine but who pin their hopes on turning their oversized son Elmer (Dewey Robinson) into a champion wrestler. The big tournament held in Paducah finds Elmer in the ring with the lethal Bullfrog Kraus (Bull Montana). When Kraus starts getting too rough with Elmer, the entire family throws itself at the wrestler and annihilates him, winning the bout. ~ Nicole Gagne, Rovi

One-Run Elmer
Dialogue only punctuates this inventive, near-silent two-reeler starring the great Buster Keaton. He plays the titular Elmer, who operates a rickety gas station in the California desert. A rival station opens for business right across the road from him, and the rivalry becomes personal when the two gas jockeys compete for the attention of a lovely lady motorist (Lona Andre). Learning she will attend a local baseball game, the men join opposing teams and wage an all-out grudge match that ends with Elmer scoring the winning run. Note the uncredited outfielder: That's the legendary Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe. ~ Nicole Gagne, Rovi

Grand Slam Opera
The E-Flat Man
Buster Keaton is on the lam from the law in this Educational two-reeler. He attempts to elope with his fiancée (Dorothea Kent), but they escape her parents by driving off in a car that's actually owned by a wanted gangster. When they hear on the radio that the police are looking for them, they dump the car and hide out near a farmhouse. But the farmer's radio also broadcasts the couple's description, so they run away and start hitchhiking, only to be picked up by two policemen. They manage to flee into a railroad yard and hop a train that turns out to be refrigerated. Finally they decide to turn themselves in -- just as they learn that the real crooks have been apprehended. ~ Nicole Gagne, Rovi

Three on a Limb
Scoutmaster Elmer Brown (Buster Keaton) loses his heart to the pretty carhop (Lona Andre) who works in a drive-in diner. Complicating his romantic longings is her policeman fiancé (Harold Goodwin). When he tries to eliminate Elmer by giving him traffic tickets for every conceivable violation, the girl takes pity on the martyred Elmer and they drive off together. She informs him that she is also fending off another suitor, Oscar (Grant Withers); and to make matters worse, her father is backing the cop while her mother promotes Oscar. Eventually all three men wind up competing for her hand at a chaotic wedding ceremony that ends with Elmer winning his beloved. ~ Nicole Gagne, Rovi

Tars and Stripes
Knockabout slapstick dominates this two-reel Navy comedy from Educational. Naval recruit Elmer (Buster Keaton) is seemingly unable to discharge any of his duties without making life miserable for his irascible commanding officer (Vernon Dent), who winds up getting doused with paint, splattered with muck, and repeatedly tossed into the water due to Elmer's ineptitude. To make matters worse, Elmer takes a shine to the CO's girlfriend (Dorothea Kent), which prompts her jealous boyfriend into several wrathful chases after Elmer. He eventually has Elmer locked into the brig -- but his girlfriend is in there too, so she can be together with her beloved Elmer. ~ Nicole Gagne, Rovi

Love Nest on Wheels
Mixed Magic
When Buster Keaton goes to work as an assistant to a carnival magician, the results turn out to be less than magical. Enthralled with the lovely assistant (Marlyn Stuart) of The Great Spumoni (Eddie Lambert), Buster takes a job as an off-stage helper to the prestidigitator. Alas, his inept efforts turn the magician's show into a shambles: Buster levitates the illusionist instead of the girl, tosses ducks on-stage at the wrong place, and lowers down inappropriate backdrops during their performance. But when he rescues the girl from the clutches of a disgruntled former helper, Buster earns the respect of all. ~ Nicole Gagne, Rovi

The Gold Ghost
Dumped by his fiancé, a young man (Buster Keaton) drives from Boston out West determined to start a new life. He winds up in the middle of Nevada in a ghost town called Vulture City, where he appoints himself sheriff. ~ Brian Gusse, Rovi

Jail Bait
Allez Oop
Blue Blazes
The Timid Young Man
Producer/director Mack Sennett and actor Buster Keaton, two masters of silent-film comedy, teamed up for the first time with this sound two-reeler released by Educational. Keaton stars as Milton, a disappointed romantic who has sworn off women. He gives a lift to a female hitchhiker (Lona Andre), whom he happily discovers is also a hurt soul and has sworn off men. Their trip together runs into interference from an aggressive driver (Stanley J. Sandford) who later reappears after the two have set up camp. He starts putting the moves on the woman, but when Milton's ex-girlfriend (Kitty McHugh) shows up, she gets into a fight with the interloper and gives Milton and his new pal the chance to slip away. ~ Nicole Gagne, Rovi

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