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Buster Keaton's Silent Shorts 1920-1923
978-0-8108-8740-4 • Hardback
January 2013 • $60.00 • (£37.95)
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978-0-8108-8741-1 • eBook
January 2013 • $59.99 • (£37.95)

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Pages: 272
Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
By James L. Neibaur and Terri Niemi
Biography & Autobiography | Entertainment & Performing Arts
Scarecrow Press
By the mid-1920s, Buster Keaton had established himself as one of the geniuses of cinema with such films as Sherlock, Jr., The Navigator, and his 1927 work The General, which was the highest ranked silent on the American Film Institute's survey of the 100 greatest films. Before Keaton ventured into longer works, however, he had honed his skills as an actor, writer, and director of short films produced in the early 1920s.

Buster Keaton’s Silent Shorts: 1920-1923, James L. Neibaur and Terri Niemi provide a film-by-film assessment of these brilliant two-reelers. The authors discuss the significance of each short—The High Sign, One Week, Convict 13, The Scarecrow, Neighbors, The Haunted House, Hard Luck, The Goat, The Playhouse, The Boat, The Paleface, Cops, My Wife’s Relations, The Blacksmith, Frozen North, Daydreams, The Electric House, The Balloonatic, and The Love Nest—to the Keaton filmography, as well as each film’s importance to cinema.

Offering a clear and in-depth perspective on these 19 films, the authors explain what makes these shorts effective and why they’re funny.
Buster Keaton’s Silent Shorts will enlighten both scholars and casual fans alike about the early work produced by one of cinema's most gifted comedians and filmmakers.
James L. Neibaur is a film historian and professional educator who has written several books on film, including The Fall of Buster Keaton: His Films for MGM, Educational Pictures, and Columbia (2010), Early Charlie Chaplin: The Artist As Apprentice at Keystone Studios (2011), and The Silent Films of Harry Langdon: 1923-1928 (2012), all published by Scarecrow.

Terri Niemi has assisted James L. Neibaur as researcher, proofreader, and fact-checker on The Fall of Buster Keaton, Early Charlie Chaplin, and The Silent Films of Harry Langdon.
Prologue: The Buster Keaton Short Films

The High Sign (1920)
One Week (1920)
Convict 13 (1920)
The Scarecrow (1920)
Neighbors (1920)
The Haunted House (1921)
Hard Luck (1921)
The Goat (1921)
The Playhouse (1921)
The Boat (1921)
The Paleface (1922)
Cops (1922)
My Wife’s Relations (1922)
The Blacksmith (1922)
The Frozen North (1922)
Daydreams (1922)
The Electric House (1922)
The Balloonatic (1923)
The Love Nest (1923)

Epilogue: Keaton after the Short Films
About the Authors
Early film icon Buster Keaton, with masterpieces such as Sherlock, Jr. and The General, ranks alongside Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd in the pantheon of silent film comic geniuses. It is these feature-length films that get most of the attention from film scholars and film students alike, while his short films—in which he learned and honed his craft—tend to be largely overlooked. In their film-by-film assessment of Keaton’s short films between the years 1920 and 1923, authors Neibaur (The Silent Films of Harry Langdon: 1923–1928) and Niemi (Neibaur’s researcher on previous books) take readers through Keaton’s burgeoning film career with a delightful mix of insight, history, criticism, and a witty writing style.

Verdict: This isn’t the average scholarly exploration on a very narrow topic that few will be interested in; instead, it peels back the decades and brings a fresh perspective to the often underexplored films of one of cinema’s great masters. This book will find readers across academia and the general public, which is an accomplishment indeed.
Library Journal

• Winner, Huffington Post Best Film Books of 2013