DVD Recommendation by matthew c. hoffman


Anytime you recommend dvds of The Big Three you have to start with the essentials; namely, Kino’s definitive (albeit pricey) The Art of Buster Keaton, the out-of-print (and even more expensive) Chaplin Collection, and the Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection– the latter being a great buy for what you get.

In preparing for the Park Ridge Public Library’s 2011 Legends series, I’ve been stocking up on my own Buster Keaton collection. I recently picked up off Amazon a wonderful dvd for the hard-core Keaton enthusiast. It’s called Industrial Strength Keaton. This two-disc set contains several rarities including commercials from the 1950s and 1960s as well as non-theatrical industrial films. There’s also a nice mini-documentary by Jack Dragga on Keaton’s famous Italian Villa (featured in the film Parlor, Bedroom and Bath, also available on Disc 1). An informative booklet is included which contains several essays about what you find on each disc. The complete contents of the collection are worth listing:

Disc 1: Archival & Promotional Films

“The Playhouse” (1921) with commentary; “Character Studies” (Mid-1920s) with commentary; Parlor, Bedroom and Bath (1931) with commentary; “1 Parlor, 5 Bedrooms and 6 Baths” (2005) documentary; “Seeing Stars” (Circa 1922); “The Voice of Hollywood #10 (1929); “Hollywood on Parade #A-6 (1932); An Old Spanish Custom (1935) with commentary.

Disc 2: Live Television & Commercials

Can of Molasses Sketch: “The Butcher Boy” (1917), “The Ed Wynn Show” (1949), “The Ken Murray Show” (1952), “You Asked For It” (1957)

“The Martha Raye Show” (1956): “The Concert”  

“Circus Time” (1956)

Commercials: Alka Seltzer, Country Club Malt Liquor, Northwest Orient Airlines, Simon Pure Beer, Shamrock Oil, Lessons in Living, Milky Way, Ford Econoline, Pure Oil.

Industrial Films: “The Devil to Pay” (1960), “The Home Owner” (1961), “The Triumph of Lester Snapwell” (1963)


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