Friday, June 15, 2012

Unseen Films Book Review: The Buster Keaton Interviews edited by Kevin W Sweeney

I'm mixing stuff up.  For the first time Unseen Films is going to review a book. It's just not any book but a book on inteviews with this week's poster boy, Buster Keaton.

Covering from 1921 until just before his death, this collection of films is a must read for anyone who loves movies and especially anyone who even remotely likes Buster Keaton.

The first piece is truly a magazine puff piece. Done as Keaton was ascending into superstardom, the piece is in stark contrast to every other one since it seems to have been done in a couple of minutes.

The rest of the interviews are treasures. To be certain some are better than others, with Kevin Brownlow's, Fletcher Markle's, Stud's Terkel's being the best of a great lot.

There is no doubt that the interviews, which are complete transcriptions where possible, do repeat. You will hear the story of his name repeatedly, as you will about his meeting of Fatty Arbuckle on Broadway, the obtaining of the ship for the Navigator and a few others. Strangely the stories never become boring: this is because Keaton changes the stories with each telling. I don't mean change, rather I mean shading since each go through reveals more and more detail. When I started the book I was convinced that I would be able to have edited it all together into some sort of super interview, but that's not really possible since Keaton reveals so much that you dare not cut anything.

I'm in awe at the amount of information contained in this...including how to make and throw a cream pie.

I should also mention that if you see So Funny it Hurt that I reviewed Wednesday you will have seen part of one of the interviews in the book. (You will also get a bit of footage that makes visual some of what Keaton is talking about concerning his work with the Marx Brothers and Red Skelton)

If you are a film fan this book is a must. It's one of the best film books I've read in a long time. Do yourself and get your hands on this book.

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