Originally Posted by Ryan
I haven't seen many Buster Keaton films, I am sad to say! I need to check some out. What's a good place to start?
The BIG Keaton classic is "The General." Get Kino's special two-DVD set with extras; it includes the Carl Davis score. Most of the silent shorts are good starting points; best-known classics are probably "Cops" and "The Goat." Again, Kino will have the best source materials. Some will diss his Columbia and Educational sound shorts. They're not my favorites, but they're far from awful and deserve a look. A couple good ones are "Pest from the West" (Columbia) and "Grand Slam Opera" (Educational). Kino has the Educational shorts; Sony has the Columbia shorts.
He's not to everybody's taste, but I enjoy him more than Chaplin. (Such heresy!) Buster's not trying to be artsy or to convey any kind of subtext---he's just going for laughs. Most books about his films are pure B.S. written by film majors. Ignore them. Best book bios are by Tom Dardis (overview) and Marion Meade (in-depth). Many fans hate Meade's book because she is not a Keaton worshiper---she plays a little rough with him sometimes, but she has the research to back it up.