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Buster Keaton: Tempest In A Flat Hat by…
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Buster Keaton: Tempest In A Flat Hat (original 2005; edition 2005)

by Edward McPherson

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1043184,974 (3.86)None
Edward McPherson traces Buster Keaton's career from his early days in vaudeville--where as a rambunctious five-year-old his father threw him around the stage--to his becoming one of the brightest stars of silent film's Golden Age. Taking what he knew from vaudeville--ingenuity, athleticism, audacity and wit--Keaton applied his hand to the new medium of film, proving himself a prodigious acrobat and brilliant writer, gagman, director and actor in more than 100 films. Between 1920 and 1929, he rivaled Fatty Arbuckle, Harold Lloyd, and even Charlie Chaplin as the master of silent comedy by writing, directing, and starring in more than 30 films. The book celebrates Keaton in his prime--as an antic genius, equal parts auteur, innovator, prankster and daredevil--while also revealing the pressures in his personal and professional life that led to a collapse into drunkenness and despair before his triumphant second act as a television pioneer and Hollywood player in everything from beach movies to Beckett. McPherson describes the life of Keaton--in front of the camera and behind the scenes--with the kind of exuberance and narrative energy displayed by the shrewd, madcap films themselves.… (more)
Member:jimcripps
Title:Buster Keaton: Tempest In A Flat Hat
Authors:Edward McPherson
Info:Newmarket Press (2005), Edition: First American Edition, Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:biography, actor, comedian, director, Hollywood

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Buster Keaton: Tempest in a Flat Hat by Edward McPherson (2005)

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non-fiction, biography, film making, cinema, vaudeville, acting, Hollywood ( )
  rlionelpolo | Oct 22, 2018 |
One would be hard-pressed to deny Keaton the attention of biographers. As one of a few key comedic actors who spanned vaudeville to television and as one of perhaps the best actor-directors to ever work, Keaton's impact on film and the American experience is formidable.

McPherson, who claims among his qualifications having watched lots of Keaton films in his Bronx apartment, seems a bit out of his depth. As a writer, he vacillates between wide-eyed enthusiast and would-be scholar. The enthusiasm does carry the biography, even if a few superlatives get out of hand and having McPherson fill pages with textual recreations of the films in question that drag. The work is carefully footnoted and brief and perfectly suitable as a starting point for those unfamiliar with the subject. It also isn't anything near a replacement for actually viewing the Keaton Co. era films, best collected in The Art of Buster Keaton DVD collection produced a few years ago by Kino. ( )
  Wova4 | Sep 9, 2010 |
Just finished this in March 2007. Read it in about ten days. It is easy to fly through books when you're obsessed with the subject. Such obsession! I have already started making notes for a film - this book is good at squashing together neat clips from his life but pads the whole thing out with detailed descriptions of film after film. Spoilers too.

Thinking of one of the best biographies I've read - Hermione Lee's biography of Virginia Woolf - the resources were endless - letters and diaries and on and on, a book about not one life but many. It goes to show how a person is not just what happens to them, but all their interactions with everyone else and you need all that for a good biography. Were the resources not available for Buster?

It has made me want to read more about silent cinema, Marx brothers, Chaplin, film restoration....
  Edvard | Mar 3, 2007 |
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Epigraph
Our hero came from Nowhere -- he wasn't going Anywhere and got kicked off Somewhere.

The High Sign(1921)
All of my life I have been happiest when the folks watching me said to each other, "Look at the poor dope, wilya?"

Buster Keaton
The empty seats get you.

Buster Keaton
Not long ago a friend asked me what was the greatest pleasure I got from pending my whole life as an actor. there have been so many that I had to think about that for a moment. Then I said, "Like everyone else, I like to be with a happy crowd."

Buster Keaton
Roscoe loved all the world, and the whole world love him in those days.

Buster Keaton
Dedication
For my grandparents
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I am sitting in an auditorium, watching a woman rip the lining out of an expensive fur felt fedora and dunk it into a bucket of water. (Introduction)
Friday, October 4, 1895. In Egypt, the Nile runs unusually high; Great Britain is experiencing uncommonly cold weather after a period of uncommon warmth; somewhere in Canada, a railroad superintendent on the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Line mysteriously disappears between stops; four men fall off a rope bridge some forty feet onto a riverbed in Sing Sing, New York; two Massachusetts balloonatics are stranded aloft when their guide suddenly collapses.
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