Buster Keaton: Tempest in a Flat Hat

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9780571216123: Buster Keaton: Tempest in a Flat Hat
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Edward McPherson traces Buster Keaton's career from his early days in vaudeville - the peak of his career. Taking what he knew from vaudeville - ingenuity, athleticism, audacity and wit - Keaton applied it to the new medium of film, and, between 1920 and 1929, was rivalled only by Chaplin as the master of silent comedy. The book celebrates Keaton in his prime - as a prodigious acrobat, brilliant writer, gag-man, director and actor - while also revealing the pressures in his personal and professional life that led to his collapse into drunkenness and despair. McPherson describes the behind-the-scenes life of Keaton with the kind of exuberance and narrative energy displayed by the films themselves.

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About the Author:

Edward McPherson is a writer in New York City. Buster Keaton is his first book.

From Publishers Weekly:

McPherson pays homage to Keaton's two-reelers and full-length movies by detailing the iconic filmmaker's plot lines and notable sight gags. Between 1920 and 1929, Keaton rivaled Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin as one of Hollywood's silent masters. Grabbing his title from Keaton's signature porkpie hat, McPherson, who's written for I.D. magazine and the New York Observer, has culled the narrative of the star's personal and professional life from earlier biographical works. His contribution is to adroitly describe the extraordinary visual lunacy Keaton produced on screen to achieve cinema art. Responsible for writing, acting, editing and directing, Keaton took what he knew—"the ingenuity, athleticism, and wit of vaudeville—and applied it to a burgeoning medium." On-screen physical catastrophes were his trademark, though many of his most treasured films, such as The General, were not initially well received. McPherson also remarks on Keaton's disastrous marriage to Natalie Talmadge (her sister, Norma, was a major star), his adjustment to talkies and his descent into alcoholism, a demon he battled for decades. In his prime, Keaton lived a life of luxury, but he paid for his excesses. When his films lost favor, he was reduced to taking studio day jobs. Yet he saw his silent classics reissued and achieved happiness with his third wife, a sunny ending for this loving tribute. 40 b&w photos. (May)
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Edward McPherson
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