Review: ‘Steamboat Bill, Jr’

Steamboat Bill, Jr
Photo by Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

The last comedy Buster Keaton made under his United Artists contract, it was held back for several months, getting itself concerned in several wild rumors. Whatever may have been the real reason why United Artists took its time about releasing this one, it had nothing to do with quality, for it's a pip of a comedy. It's one of Keaton's best.

The last comedy Buster Keaton made under his United Artists contract, it was held back for several months, getting itself concerned in several wild rumors. Whatever may have been the real reason why United Artists took its time about releasing this one, it had nothing to do with quality, for it’s a pip of a comedy. It’s one of Keaton’s best.

The story concerns the efforts of an old hard-boiled river captain (Ernest Torrence), to survive on the river in the face of opposition from a brand new modern rival boat, put in commission by his rival (Tom McGuire). The old-timer hasn’t seen his son since he was an infant. The son arrives (Keaton), and things begin to happen, fast and furiously.

The son falls in love with the daughter of the rival owner. Matters reach a climax when the old tub of Steamboat Bill is condemned. In a rage, he confronts his rival and accuses him of robbing him. A battle ensues.

An excellent cast gives Keaton and Torrence big league support. Tom Lewis as the first mate, McGuire as the rival owner and Marion Byron as the girl contribute heavily. The windstorm is a gem and the river stuff interesting and colorful.

Steamboat Bill, Jr

Production

United Artists. Director Charles Riesner; Producer Joseph M. Schenck; Screenplay Carl Harbaugh; Camera Dev Jennings, Bert Haines

Crew

Silent. (B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1928. Running time: 65 MIN.

With

Buster Keaton Ernest Torrence Tom McGuire Marion Byron Tom Lewis

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