Steamboat Bill, Jr. / College (DVD)

Steamboat Bill, Jr. / College (DVD)

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STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. was Buster Keaton’s last independent silent comedy and also one of his finest. He stars as the effete son of a gruff riverboat captain (Ernest Torrence), who struggles to earn his father’s respect (and the love of beautiful Marion Byron). But the film is best remembered for the climactic cyclone sequence—a slapstick tour-de-force in which Keaton’s comedic stunts are performed amid the full-scale destruction of an entire town. A stone-faced response to Harold Lloyd’s The Freshman, COLLEGE follows a frail scholar as he tries to win the heart of a girl (Anne Cornwall) through athletics. Keaton used his own physical agility to brilliant comic effect, as his character suffers a series of crushing failures. But the greatest surprise comes at the end, when the scrawny intellectual finally releases the physical tiger within.