Steamboat Bill, Jr. Screen 7 articles

Steamboat Bill, Jr.

1928

Steamboat Bill, Jr. Poster
  • A charmer. Its narrative doesn't cohere as well as Buster's very—check out Sherlock Jr. and The Cameraman—feeling a bit too much like a string of gags in search of a forward momentum. Bonus star for the final string of wild mayhem, which is a corker. Sidenote: my god, this red state/blue state divide has been with us forever.

  • Machinery often fills the emotional void left by people in Keaton’s world (his affection for his locomotive in “The General” runs far deeper than his interest in his bubbleheaded fiancée), and the one force that can be counted on is not love or friendship, but simple Newtonian physics. What goes up, must come down.

  • If Steamboat Bill, Jr. is Class 1A among Keaton's prime work rather than top-shelf (like his previous seacraft-set The Navigator), its concluding 15-minute showstopper is a high watermark in imaginative, exhilarating entertainment.

  • Today, this quaint, precise, epic entertainment, crafted in the strange transitional phase between the silent era and the struggling years of the first talkies, seems like a necessity, a gust of relaxed maturity and reason in a pandering Hollywood sphere that would grow ever more frantic and obvious.

  • If Keaton was indeed a stoic, he was one in the classical Greek sense, of maintaining self-control and discipline as a virtue, of virtue being in inherent harmony with nature, and of virtue being the sole possible source of happiness (that of the character of Steamboat Bill, Jr., if not of Keaton himself).

  • The cyclone is not only amazing for its technical achievement, it is impressive for Keaton’s choices in filming it... The masterful presentation of the sequence from all levels is a fitting climax to the series of brilliantly clever ideas that lead up to it.

  • To watch this film is to watch a man repeatedly throw himself into peril for the sake of comedy cinema, and perhaps there’s an increased sense of urgency to this performance with the knowledge that [Keaton] would never enjoy such freedom again.