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Press Release for Film at Lincoln Center: ‘Camera Man: Dana Stevens on Buster Keaton’

Steamboat Bill, Jr. (courtesy of Lincoln Center Film and Dana Stevens)

Steamboat Bill, Jr. may be Keaton’s most mature film, a fitting if too-early farewell to his period of peak creative independence … its relationship to the rest of its creator’s work has been compared to that of Shakespeare’s last play, The Tempest.”

 – Dana Stevens on Steamboat Bill, Jr.

Steamboat Bill, Jr.

Camera Man: Dana Stevens on Buster Keaton, screening on January 27 at 7:00pm at the Francesca Beale Theater in the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center is one you don’t want to miss if you love Buster Keaton and the film Steamboat Bill, Jr.

To mark the upcoming release of her new book Camera Man: Buster Keaton, the Dawn of Cinema, and the Invention of the Twentieth Century, author and Slate film critic Dana Stevens joins Film at Lincoln Center for an extended conversation with writer Imogen Sara Smith. A screening of the 4K restoration of Keaton’s silent comedy masterpiece Steamboat Bill, Jr. follows, preceded by a 2K restoration of the classic two-reeler One Week. Both films are from the Cohen Film Collection and feature 5.1 orchestral scores by composer Carl Davis.

Known as “The Great Stone Face” due to his deadpan facial expressions and mannerisms during the Silent Film era, Buster Keaton left an enduring impression on film history. On Keaton’s breakneck productivity and prolific output of films throughout this period, film critic Roger Ebert said: “from 1920 to 1929, he worked without interruption on a series of films that make him, arguably, the greatest actor-director in the history of the movies.” Keaton’s experience with pratfalls and showmanship from vaudeville performances as a child evolved into his eye-popping, unforgetable achievements in Steamboat Bill, Jr. as well as The Cameraman, The General, and Sherlock Jr., all of which have been selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Dana Stevens is the film critic at Slate magazine and a co-host of the Slate Culture Gabfest podcast. She has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and Bookforum. She lives in New York City with her family. Camera Man is her first book.

Imogen Sara Smith is the author of Buster Keaton: The Persistence of Comedy and In Lonely Places: Film Noir Beyond the City. A regular contributor to the Criterion Collection and the Criterion Channel, she has also written for Film Comment, Sight & Sound, Cineaste, Reverse Shot, and many other publications.

Camera Man: Dana Stevens on Buster Keaton is organized by Madeline Whittle.

Tickets, on sale beginning on Friday, December 18 are still on sale. Pricing is $15 (General Public), $12 (Students, Seniors, Persons with Disabilities), and $10 (Members). Save on FLC memberships this month only! Learn more here.

Films and Descriptions

The event will take place at the Francesca Beale Theater (144 W 65th St)

Steamboat Bill, Jr.

Charles Reisner, 1928, USA, 70m

In the 10th and final feature to emerge from Buster Keaton’s independent production unit, the legendary comic master turns in an iconically endearing performance as the eponymous Bill Jr., a college student who returns home to help his scheming riverboat captain father (Ernest Torrence) compete with the far more successful luxury-riverboat owner J.J. King (Tom McGuire)—who also happens to be the father of Bill Jr.’s sweetheart. To make matters worse, a cyclone blows through the area, setting the stage for some of Keaton’s finest stunts on camera and one of the most (deservedly) storied sequences in all of silent cinema, in which a house’s actual two-ton facade falls on the oblivious young man. 4K Restoration by Cohen Media Group in collaboration with the Cineteca Bologna.

Thursday, January 27, 7:00pm (Q&A with author Dana Stevens and writer Imogen Sara Smith)

Preceded by:

One Week

Buster Keaton & Edward F. Cline, 1920, USA, 25m

A man and his new bride set about assembling a home for themselves with a build-your-own-house construction kit, only to encounter unforeseen pitfalls resulting from a disgruntled former lover’s sabotage. 2K Restoration by Cohen Media Group in collaboration with the Cineteca Bologna.


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