Life With Buster

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Joe Migliore
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Life With Buster

Postby Joe Migliore » Sun Aug 29, 2010 2:09 pm

Does anyone have an accurate count of how many episodes of Keaton's TV series are still extant today? Over the years I've seen a few stray episodes, and I think they compare favourably to the Columbia shorts. (They feel more like the Educationals; in fact, the Stevensons included one on their set of that series, the only advantage it holds over the Kino set.) There seems to be surprisingly little information out there on this particular aspect of Buster's career, so I would be grateful for any help pointing me in the right direction. Thank you.

Uli Ruedel
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Re: Life With Buster

Postby Uli Ruedel » Fri Sep 10, 2010 2:28 am

Let's see...

there are the wonderfully surreal Gorilla Story and Detective Story. Then there's Haunted House and Time Machine, Collapsible Clerk and Fishing Story, plus the three episodes compiled as The Misadventures of Buster Keaton. I wonder, as a matter of fact, whether the titles I cite were made up for some form of international theatrical releases; apparently such distribution was the case for Gorilla Story in the UK, if memory serves. And there's an army story that so far I've only seen German dubbed or Dutch subtitled. There was a German compilation, Buster Keaton in Wildwest, which included a Margaret Dumont episode, in addition to the army and safari episodes, and an edited version of Time Machine was coupled in Germany with a re-release of Chump at Oxford. I wouldn't be surprised if more or all episodes are around somewhere in some form due to such distribution, and recall that all the original negs are said to survive. No doubt Richard will know more, and a comprehensive DVD/BR release is probably now item #1 on the Keaton wish list, along with a few other elusive TV appearances and the phonetic versions. The Kino excerpts looked great; does Douris hold the rights and /or elements?

Uli

Joe Migliore
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Re: Life With Buster

Postby Joe Migliore » Thu Sep 16, 2010 12:25 pm

Thank you for your response, Uli. I hadn't heard that the negatives are still extant, but it's obviously great news if they are. (It makes sense that Keaton would take steps to preserve these materials, believing as he did at the time that some of his best silent work was irretrievably lost.) I don't know who currently holds the rights for this show; I just always assumed that Raymond Rohauer snapped them up at some point, but that may be an entirely wrong-footed assumption. Even if the negs could not be located, it is clear just from the examples you listed that a representative cross-section of these episodes would make for a very entertaing DVD. (By the way, your memory is spot-on: David Macleod's book lists "The Gorilla Story" as a theatrical release by British Lion in April of 1954.) You've divined my intentions correctly: I want to see a definitive collection of this series, right alongside the Kino and Columbia sets. Perhaps another Keaton DVD on the market would spur Ted Turner to release beautiful HD transfers of "Doughboys", "Speak Easily", and "Sidewalks Of New York". Well, that's how it happens in my dream.

Richard M Roberts
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Re: Life With Buster

Postby Richard M Roberts » Fri Sep 17, 2010 3:27 pm

Joe Migliore wrote:Thank you for your response, Uli. I hadn't heard that the negatives are still extant, but it's obviously great news if they are. (It makes sense that Keaton would take steps to preserve these materials, believing as he did at the time that some of his best silent work was irretrievably lost.) I don't know who currently holds the rights for this show; I just always assumed that Raymond Rohauer snapped them up at some point, but that may be an entirely wrong-footed assumption. Even if the negs could not be located, it is clear just from the examples you listed that a representative cross-section of these episodes would make for a very entertaing DVD. (By the way, your memory is spot-on: David Macleod's book lists "The Gorilla Story" as a theatrical release by British Lion in April of 1954.) You've divined my intentions correctly: I want to see a definitive collection of this series, right alongside the Kino and Columbia sets. Perhaps another Keaton DVD on the market would spur Ted Turner to release beautiful HD transfers of "Doughboys", "Speak Easily", and "Sidewalks Of New York". Well, that's how it happens in my dream.



Actually, neither Keaton nor Rohauer had anything to do with the preservation of the LIFE WITH BUSTER series, the original negs and the rights have ended up with a Religious Media company whose name escapes me at the moment and they haven't shown much interest in doing anything with them.
What I wish would turn up is more Kinescopes of Keaton's 1949 live series for KTTV. The one that miraculously has surfaced is delightful, and it's always great hearing Buster work before a live audience.


RICHARD M ROBERTS

Joe Migliore
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Re: Life With Buster

Postby Joe Migliore » Fri Sep 17, 2010 7:41 pm

the original negs and the rights have ended up with a Religious Media company whose name escapes me at the moment and they haven't shown much interest in doing anything with them.


Forgive them, Godfather; they know not what they do.

Joe Migliore

Rob Farr
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Re: Life With Buster

Postby Rob Farr » Sun Nov 21, 2010 2:14 pm

That religious media company isn't Modern Sound Pictures is it? They've been liquidating their inventory of old 16mm prints for so many decades now that I wonder if they aren't striking new "old" prints like some unscrupulous antique dealer.
Rob Farr
"If it's not comedy, I fall asleep" - Harpo Marx

Richard M Roberts
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Re: Life With Buster

Postby Richard M Roberts » Sun Nov 21, 2010 2:32 pm

Rob Farr wrote:That religious media company isn't Modern Sound Pictures is it? They've been liquidating their inventory of old 16mm prints for so many decades now that I wonder if they aren't striking new "old" prints like some unscrupulous antique dealer.


Well, Modern Sound Pictures is not a religious media organization, they're a film rental outfit that distributed a number of religious pictures, including owning the rights to Demille's KING OF KINGS for years. No the organization that own the Keaton TV show was a genuine Southern Baptist sort of group that ended up owning the Keaton show unintentionally and basically by accident. If Modern Sound had owned them, they'd most likely be available to see far more easily.

RICHARD M ROBERTS


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