Menu

BUSTER KEATON: A FILMMAKER’S LIFE

BUSTER KEATON: A FILMMAKER’S LIFE by James Curtis (Knopf)

At more than 600 pages, this is not the kind of book one takes up casually. I cleared time on my calendar to read it cover to cover. By the time I got to Buster Keaton’s blossoming film career in the 1920s, it was hard to put down. I was genuinely excited to learn what was coming next. It’s not that I don’t know the basics of Buster’s life and career; Curtis has dug deep and found fresh, fascinating details that explain how and why some movies came about, and how the methodical performer and filmmaker executed some of his still-astonishing gags.

New information about films made one hundred years ago? That’s right. Curtis also proffers original thoughts that help us understand Buster’s unique personality, work ethic and his laissez-faire attitude toward his producer (and brother-in-law) Joseph Schenck.

This revelatory quality permeates the hefty book, along with a selection of rare photographs. I’ve read descriptions of the family vaudeville act The Three Keatons before, but never in such rich and vivid detail. I’m familiar with the act’s bête noir, The Gerry Society, which sought to protect children in show business, but again the author expands our knowledge with useful and amusing details.

Curtis is a superior biographer, having tackled W.C. Fields, Spencer Tracy, and William Cameron Menzies, among others. His ability to communicate is matched only by his diligence in conducting research that goes beyond the ordinary.

Others can, and will, continue to write about Buster Keaton and offer their own interpretations…but I can’t imagine anyone else tackling his life. This volume can lay claim to being definitive

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

Subscribe to our newsletter

MERCH

Maltin tee on TeePublic

PODCAST

Maltin on Movies podcast

PAST MALTIN ON MOVIES PODCASTS

Past podcasts

PATREON

Maltin On Movies Patreon

APPEARANCES/BOOKING

Leonard Maltin appearances and booking

CALENDAR

August 2022
S M T W T F S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031