Steamboat Bill, Jr.

The charming Mississippi River setting (actually filmed along the Sacramento Delta) is but one of Steamboat Bill, Jr.'s many pleasures. The film seems to have a direct line to Buster Keaton's youth and soul in the tale of a sensitive, effeminate lad trying to figure out the mettle of manhood in his overbearing dad. Buster with an umbrella against the fearsome storm that rips the houses off people's lives; Buster drawn, as if in a dream, to an abandoned vaudeville theater: “Keaton's most entertaining balance of the instinctual and the cerebral” (Andrew Sarris and Tom Allen, Village Voice). The climax is one of Keaton's most dangerous and carefully planned stunts: a wall comes crashing down on him but he passes, untouched, through an open window. Keaton was the true he-man among matinee idols-the scene was done unfaked, with a real wall.

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