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An Amazing Buster Keaton “Find”

Reviews
by Leonard Maltin
June 18, 2014 3:22 AM
8 Comments
  • |
Buster Keaton Script-290
Courtesy of the International Buster Keaton Society

Who would have dreamt that never-before-seen photographs and a copy of an annotated script for Buster Keaton’s masterpiece The General would turn up after almost 90 years? Yet that’s precisely what has occurred, and it’s cause for celebration.

Decades after Keaton went on location to Cottage Grove, Oregon to film his Civil War railroad story, curious Keaton buffs and scholars started traveling to the town in search of locations and eyewitnesses to the production. Snippets of history have resulted, but none can compare with the discovery of a cache of never-published photos taken during the Keaton troupe’s stay on location.

Here I will quote directly from a press release issued by the Damfinos: “A local photographer was given unprecedented access to the filming of the classic, and his vast collection of photographs and nitrate negatives remained stored in a box until found recently by one of his descendants. The collection was obtained by the member of the Buster Keaton Society, and rights to publish the materials were donated to the group. In addition, the only known script for the film, the personal copy of one of the film’s writers, Clyde Bruckman, complete with his and Keaton’s handwritten notes, recently surfaced at auction and rights for it were obtained by the Keaton Society, which plans to publish a book in the near future, featuring both the photographs and the script, along with other rare, previously unpublished material about the making of the film.”

Buster Keaton script-The General
Courtesy of the International Buster Keaton Society

One picture of Buster playing baseball on location, in his General hairstyle and garb, has been released, along with a shot of Clyde Bruckman’s script cover. Both are understandably watermarked by the Damfinos to protect their proprietary rights.

Again, to quote from the press release: “The material will be available for viewing in person one time only at this year’s Buster Keaton Convention, Oct. 2-4, 2014, in Muskegon, Michigan. For further information about the convention, visit busterkeaton.com and click on Convention.”

I, for one, can’t wait to see that book. 

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More: Book Reviews, Buster Keaton, The General

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8 Comments

  • JJ Anderson | July 1, 2014 4:57 AMReply

    Clyde Bruckman was director, and that makes these annotated notes more important. I would dearly love to see a copy.

  • The Lone Banana | June 30, 2014 5:01 PMReply

    Who are these "Damfinos" mentioned twice but never identified?

  • Joe | July 2, 2014 12:00 AM

    The Damfinos are a Buster Keaton fan group named after a ship in one of his shorts.

  • Kip W | July 1, 2014 11:12 AM

    Who are these "Damfinos" mentioned twice but never identified?

    Dam' if I know.

  • Lea S. | June 22, 2014 4:32 PMReply

    Being a massive fan of silent film, I agree that this is fabulous news indeed!! I first heard about it on FB and was incredibly excited. I have an interview with the president of the International Buster Keaton Society about these finds on my own humble site, Silent-ology (it's a wordpress blog, a Google search will bring it up).

  • Karen Snow | June 18, 2014 6:48 PMReply

    Awesome news !!

  • Norm | June 18, 2014 5:24 PMReply

    Eureka !

  • Carl LaFong | June 18, 2014 10:30 AMReply

    Wow! Thanks, you just made my day.

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