Saturday, July 31, 2010

Capsule Review: Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928)

Perhaps best known for the scene of an entire building facade falling on Buster Keaton's William Canfield Jr., his life saved only by his body fitting through the scant space left by an attic window, Steamboat Bill Jr's rightfully praised finale is actually a cavalcade of destruction. In fact, the cyclone sequence that takes up the final quarter of the film is so impressive that it dwarfs the achievement of the rest of the film - one of Keaton's best as he plays a foppish youngster who humiliates his rough riverboat captain father. The fish out of water sequences are hilarious, with Ernest Torrence terrific as Canfield's irascible father - but the display of technical and physical prowess in the climax is what most audiences will remember.

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