Wednesday, November 20, 2013

College: Ultimate Edition (1927)

College: Ultimate EditionComparing this new Blu-ray release to the old Art Of Buster Keaton DVD shows much improvement.

1) A significant amount of picture has been added to all sides! The old DVD was heavily cropped on all sides! But this added picture comes with some downsides, there was a framing problem in the master film and at times there is a lighter grey-tone bar at the bottom of the picture. This was cropped off in the old DVD.

2) The new High Definition transfer is sharper and does add details to the grass on the ground and the ivy on the buildings. Even the grainy replacement section at 24:51 looks way better here.

3) The old DVD was a little too bright, some of the whites seemed to wash out. This new transfer lowers the white levels to correct this. However it gives the film the look of being shot on a cloudy day. Some may like the brighter look of the old DVD, others will like this less washed-out presentation. I prefer this version, but find the old DVD acceptable.

4) Image stabilization has been used in this new transfer. The most noticeable improvement is in the opening titles, they are rock steady (but not a freeze frame).

5) The original DVD had some of it's dialogue cards replaced with black background cards. Here in this new transfer, all dialogue cards have the same curtain background. They look original, not recreations.

The downside: Soms shots are still soft here and there as inferior prints had to be used where footage was missing fromt he original 35mm master. But that is the nature of watching old films originally filmed on Nitrate film.

This 1hour and 5 minute film has the same John Muri musical accompanyment as the old DVD, but it sounds crisper here.

There is also an optional COMMENTARY TRACK by Slapsticon founder and film historian ROB FARR.


The old DVD included Buster's shorts that are now on the Buster Keaton Shorts Blu-ray, but no real bonuses.

This Blu-ray has two bonus features:

a) Silent Echos (9:55) a then & now look at the shooting locations of "College".

b) The Scribe (29:25) a 1966 Construction Safety Associates of Onterio COLOR industrial film starring Buster. This would be Buster's last appearance on film before he passed away.

Buster is a new reporter who visits a construction site to report on construction accidents. However the biggest cause of accidents on this site is Buster himself.

Buster doesn't speak in this sound film, he only points to a list of safety regulations and a narrator recites the regulation. This pantomime separates him from reality and makes it easier to watch this now elderly man get bounced around. This late example of Buster's work is a good indication on how the world sadly ignored this talented man since the 1940's.

AS FOR THE FEATURE FILM, College has never been one of my favorites. Buster is attending college (which was a new concept in Los Angeles in those days as their universities were just being built). After giving a speech on how important studies are over athletics, Buster's girlfriend tells him he must re-think his ideas if she is going to stay with him. So Buster enters that athletic world (in real life Buster is an athlete). Buster's thrill of athletics is apparent here, but 15 minutes of him blundering around on the Track & Field Stadium doesn't make good cinema. This happens right in the middle of the film, it feels like the pace grinds to a halt. We smile at his blunders, but they are not genuinely funny. The film picks up again and Buster is in top form during the boat race finale.

***PC WARNING*** Buster does apply for a job asking for "Colored Waiters" and goes in black-face for the job.

Any Buster Keaton film is still enjoyable, and if you are thinking of upgrading to this Blu-ray, I would suggest it

The new Blu-Ray version of "College" from Kino will please any Buster Keaton fan and most others too. The story finds Buster as a smart high school grad with difficulties fitting in with the popular crowd. He follows his sweetheart to college and has to compete with the "big man on campus" for the attention of his high school sweetheart, the very attractive Anne Cornwall. Buster's attempts to fit in at college and with the popular crowd are thwarted in some very funny ways. Buster tries to hold a job as a "sodajerk" at the local ice cream parlor but fails in funny fashion.Later he tries to impress the girl by being a college baseball player but fails at that too. Then it's on to track and field where he tries to emulate other teammates in all the events of the day(1920's). These include some field events that are no longer used. All of this leads to some very funny bits and eventual failure. He finally becomes the hero of the day as the coxwain for the rowing crew. Of course he finally defeats his rival, wins the hand of his beloved and all ends happily.

Many of the college scenes were shot on the campus of the Univ.of Southern California and in the Los Angeles Memorial

Coleseum built for the Olympics.Over-all a very funny film.

The only down-side is the unfortunate use of some "black-face" comedy scenes in which Buster tries to work in a restaurant as a waiter with disasterous results.

The disc includes a nice addition of John Bengtson's "Silent Echoes" in which he traces Buster's actual locations in the film through historical photos he has researched.

The disc also includes a short film that is believed to be Keation's last filmed performance. It's an industrial film promoting saftey at construction sites. It's a sad end to a remarkable career as one of film's greatest comic actors.

On the down-side, I could not get the disc's audio comentary by Rob Farr to operate. It may be a problem with the disc that I will investigate further. The musical setting by John Muri, though-out the film, was adequate.

Over-all, I give it four-stars.

Buy College: Ultimate Edition (1927) Now

College may not be Keaton's best, but it's still Keaton AT his best, if that makes any sense. The story is very simple and is clearly just there to hang gags on. But what gags! Many of them are sports gags (baseball, track and field, etc.) and Buster was clearly having a great time with them. The Blu-ray looks very good and is noticeably better than the DVD though it's not as nice as The General or some other silents out there. Given how old the film is, and the overall history of Hollywood and its film prints, it's understandable. But College has never looked as good as this on home video, and I have it in every incarnation all the way back to a VHS bootleg in the late 80's. I wish there was an alternate score with organ. I don't know why, but I prefer Keaton with organ scores. Maybe it's from seeing his films so many times in Los Angeles at the Silent Theater in the 90's with organ accompaniment. Still, this disc is highly recommended.

Read Best Reviews of College: Ultimate Edition (1927) Here

For those who are not familiar with the name Buster Keaton, it is sufficient to say that, along with Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, he was one of cinema's early and most famous masters of comedy. Joseph Frank "Buster" Keaton (1895-1966) made his mark in silent movies, as an actor, director, writer and director, and was able to carry on successfully to the talkies. One is his best and most memorable a classic -film is, without a doubt, "College," now available in the glorious Blu-ray format thanks to Kino.

The story of "College" is quite simple and straight, yet humorous thanks to Keaton's physical comedy. He stars as "a son," who just graduated with honors from high school. However, he is not admired by his classmates. That privilege, of course, belongs to "a rival" (Harold Goodwin), who is the athletic star. At the same time, Keaton is also attracted to "the girl" (Anne Cornwall); she likes him, but is kind of undecided. Soon after, all of them attend Clayton College, where Keaton decides to get into sports, so that he could win the girl's heart for good. Or, as he tells the school dean, "I took up athletics because the girl I love thinks I am a weakling." He tries everything baseball, football, track and field... Because of this, his grades take a plunge, and the dean, who really likes him, tries to help him and find a solution.

One of the things that I enjoy about watching Keaton's films, in addition to the humor, is the locations. Many of them are still around today, and one of the extras in the Blu-ray is, precisely, a visual essay of the film's locations by John Bengston. There are also audio commentaries by film historians, as well as "The Scribe," a 30 min 1966 film believed to be Keaton's "Great Stone Face," as he was nicknamed --last filmed performance. Quite a Blu-ray, as you can see one for collectors. "College" can also be obtained in Kinos's fantastic collection "The Art of Buster Keaton," available both in DVD and Blu-ray. (USA, 1927, B&W, 64 min plus additional materials)

Reviewed on May 23, 2013 by Eric Gonzalez for Kino Blu-ray

Want College: Ultimate Edition (1927) Discount?

I have puchased many of the Keaton Ultimate Edition blu-rays. The films are great, but the scores by Kino are usually dreadful and detract greatly from the experience of watching these great masterpieces. Please, Kino, do the right thing and provide some alternate scores which will add to the experience rather than detracting from it.

Save 35% Off

No comments:

Post a Comment