Buster Keaton: 3 Films Volume 2 [Masters of Cinema] (Blu-ray Review)

Buster Keaton Volume 2 Blu-rayBetween 1920 and 1929, Buster Keaton created a peerless run of feature films that established him as “arguably the greatest actor-director in the history of the movies”. Collected here are three further films from that era; The Navigator, Seven Chances and Battling Butler. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present all three films from stunning 4K restorations in their UK debuts on Blu-ray.  The Navigator (1924, dir. Buster Keaton & Donald Crisp) Wealthy Rollo Treadway (Keaton) suddenly decides to propose to his neighbor across the street, Betsy O’Brien (Kathryn McGuire. Keaton was unhappy with the audience response to Sherlock Jr. , and endeavored to make a follow-up that was both exciting and successful. The result was the biggest hit of Keaton’s career.  Seven Chances (1925, dir. Buster Keaton) Jimmy Shannon (Keaton) learns he is to inherit seven million dollars, with a catch. He will only get the money if he is married by 7pm on his 27th birthday, which happens to be that same day!  Battling Butler (1926, dir. Buster Keaton) A rich, spoiled dandy (Keaton) pretends to be a champion boxer, “Battling Butler”, to impress the family of the girl he loves. When the real Butler shows up, he decided to humiliate the imposter by having him fight the “Alabama Murderer” !


Buster Keaton Volume 2 Blu-ray

The Films 

Eureka! Masters of Cinema have grace us with Buster Keaton: 3 Films Volume 2. This edition contains three of Buster Keaton’s films from 1920 – 1929, which are: The Navigator (1924), Seven Chances (1925), and Battling Butler (1926).

Seeing as how the lead-in paragraph description has plenty of synopsis for all three films, I will just focus on personal opinion and commentary for the following instead a mindless rehash.

Watching all three films back-to-back-to-back on Blu-ray was a wonderful experience in that these films are rock solid in terms of story and content. All three films showcase what a great athlete, stuntman, and performer Buster Keaton really was. If you watch Battling Butler you can clearly see how physically fit Buster was — as if he were a Caucasian Bruce Lee — the man was physically fit! A cool anecdote with regards to Battling Butler is that when Martin Scorsese was doing research for Raging BullBattling Butler was one of the films he watched to prep for his film.

Buster Keaton was Charlie Chaplin’s contemporary, but the two, aside of physical prowess, played their roles much differently, and this is where some folks, prefer one over the other. Charlie Chaplin had an outgoing sort of personality that embodied his tramp persona, whereas Buster Keaton was the constant stoic. Buster’s facial expression was that of wallpaper, you just couldn’t get a read out of him. This stoic-look could make folks not identify or empathize with, because if he doesn’t “care” then why should the audience? I’d argue that there’s plenty of room for both personalities to coexist and be discovered for ages to come.

Seeing as this is volume 2 of this Eureka! Masters of Cinema series, with the first volume being long out of print, I think folks will have a great time exploring these films on Blu-ray. They’re sourced from 4K masters, and feature bountiful extras and a limited-edition book.


Buster Keaton Volume 2 Blu-ray


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Clarity/Detail: Contrast and sharpness levels are perfectly adequate. I did not spot any instances of post production tinkering on these Blu-rays.

Depth: These films are product of their time, as is the overall look. They all have various levels of tint, with Battling Butler being the most obvious one, with a sepia-like tint.

Black Levels: The black levels are quite deep and inky. Crush is not a problem and contrast levels bounce off of these levels nicely, especially during intertitle transitions. .

Color Reproduction:  All three films are in black and white, sepia, and in amber tints. The opening of Seven Chances was filmed with early technicolor tints and they are a product of their time. These scenes of early color have an almost watercolor wash before shifting into b&w. The green day for night sequences in The Navigator are not part of this edition.

Flesh Tones: N/A

Noise/Artifacts: All three films have various bits of burned in artifacts and debris due to sources having these anomolies “baked in” to the materials used. This does not run rampant across the films, because if you remember, these have been remastered from 4K sources.

Buster Keaton Volume 2 Blu-ray


Audio Format(s): The Navigator DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1, Seven Chances LPCM 2.0, Battling Butler DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English intertitles

Dynamics: The Navigator and Battling Butler are given lossless 5.1. DTS Master Audio tracks, while Seven Chances is given an LPCM 2.0 track. I would not say that the films do not necessarily benefit from surround lossless tracks, because they do benefit from some serious expansion. They are given plenty of room to breathe, even if it’s just front driven audio.

Low-Frequency Extension: Even though The Navigator and Battling Butler technically have lossless 5.1 soundtracks, I did not detect any low-end subwoofer effects on either. I would have put the N/A, but this is still a 5.1 surround track, so I have to be specific.

Surround Sound Presentation: The Navigator and Battling Butler have 5.1 lossless surround sound tracks but they are not actively used on either presentation.

Dialogue Reproduction: N/A

Buster Keaton Volume 2 Blu-ray


Buster Keaton Volume 2 is fully loaded with tons of special features spread out on three Blu-ray discs, in addition to including a 60-page book. the first 3,000 copies also have a limited edition hardbound slipcase. I would suggest on watching the theatrical feature first before digging into the special features, as there are spoilers.

  • Limited Edition Hardbound Slipcase [3000 copies ONLY]
  • 1080p presentations of all three films from the Cohen Film Collection s stunning 4K restorations, with musical scores composed and conducted by Robert Israel
  • The Navigator Audio commentary by silent film historians Robert Arkus and Yair Solan
  • Seven Chances Brand new audio commentary by film historians Joel Goss and Bruce Lawton
  • New and exclusive video essay by David Cairns covering all three films
  • The Navigator A short documentary on the making of the film and Keaton s fascination with boats as sources of comedy, by film historian Bruce Lawton
  • Buster Keaton & Irwin Allen audio interview from 1945 [6 mins]
  • Buster Keaton & Arthur Friedman audio interview from 1956 [32 mins]
  • Buster Keaton & Robert Franklin audio interview from 1958 [56 mins]
  • Buster Keaton & Herbert Feinstein audio interview from 1960 [48 mins]
  • Buster Keaton & Studs Terkel audio interview from 1960 [38 mins]
  • What! No Spinach? (1926, dir. Harry Sweet) [19 mins] Rarely seen comedy short by American actor / director Harry Sweet, that riffs on a number of elements from Seven Chances
  • PLUS: A LIMITED EDITION 60-PAGE perfect bound collector s book featuring new writing by Imogen Sara Smith and Philip Kemp; and a selection of archival writing and imagery

Buster Keaton Volume 2 Blu-ray


Buster Keaton: 3 Films Volume 2 is a magnificent inclusion to the world of Blu-ray and Eureka! Masters of Cinema have raised the bar on Blu-ray excellence with this new release. The video, audio, and special features are of reference and near-reference quality. Please keep in mind that this is a region B-locked release and you will need a region-free Blu-ray player in order for proper playback. Buster Keaton: 3 Films Volume 2 is one of the best Blu-ray releases of the year!


DISCLAIMER: This Region B Blu-ray review was judged and graded using the following HD Premium television set found HERE and Region-Free Blu-ray player HERE.  Make sure to check out all of our Blu-ray reviews archived HERE.  The images used above within the review are not actual Blu-ray screenshots. They are for illustrative purposes only.


Buster Keaton: 3 Films Volume 2

is available in the UK!




Buster Keaton Volume 2 Blu-ray


Buster Keaton Volume 2 Blu-ray


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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