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College – Buster Keaton

College, starring Buster KeatonEditorial review of College, starring Buster Keaton, courtesy of Amazon.com

buy-from-amazon Buster Keaton goes back to school and stages a hilarious send-up of university life in College. Keaton stars as Ronald, an idealistic freshman who attends Clayton College in pursuit of higher learning, but finds himself instead embroiled in a war of athletics as he fights for the heart of his beloved coed, Mary (Anne Cornwall).

More than he had in any other feature, Keaton stretched the boundaries of solo physical comedy. In a series of unforgettable vignettes, stone-faced Ronald tries his hand as a baseball player, soda jerk, waiter, coxswain, and track star, performing each task with a steady determination but with consistently disastrous results. These scenes are especially amazing because in demonstrating Ronald’s athletic inadequacies, Keaton reveals a surprising degree of physical prowess and finesse, particularly during the film’s exhilarating climax.

BONUS FEATURES: Audio commentary by film historian Rob Farr, founder of Slapsticon, Visual essay on the film’s locations, ”The Scribe”, a 1966 industrial short that was Keaton’s final filmed performance, Kino Lorber trailers and more!

Trivia for College

  • The boat for which Buster Keaton is coxswain is called Damfino, the same name as the eponymous boat in his short movie The Boat (1921).
  • The pole vault near the end of the movie is one of the few stunts in his career that Buster Keaton did not perform himself.
  • In an interview with author Kevin Brownlow, Buster Keaton said that he directed almost all of this film and that credited co-director James W. Horne did virtually none of it. Keaton said that his business manager talked him into using Horne, but that Horne proved “absolutely worthless to me… I don’t know why we had him.”
  • Various sources associated with the production recalled in later interviews that there was also a filmed scene of Buster Keaton’s character trying to play football, but that this scene was later removed to avoid too close a comparison with Harold Lloyd’s The Freshman (1925). While no film has surfaced to confirm this, production stills show Buster wearing a football uniform and playing football with some kids in a vacant lot. Moreover, two small parts of the released film lend credence to it: 1) When Keaton is unpacking in his dorm, one of the how-to-play-sports books he unpacks is about football, and 2) in the scene of Keaton running across the campus to rescue his girl, he dodges through a crowd of people like a running back trying to avoid tacklers in the open field.