Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928)

For his last film as an independent artist (before signing with MGM, where he would have less freedom), Buster Keaton made one of his funniest and most elaborate slapstick comedies. He stars as a 19th-century city slicker trying to live up to the masculinity of his father (Ernest Torrence), a tough riverboat captain. Keaton’s early efforts prove a disaster but when a mammoth storm hits town, he saves the day with an impressive display of athleticism. From the subtle pantomime of the early scenes, in which he tries and fails to save his father’s steamboat business, he transitions to manic slapstick for the film’s climax. The cyclone scenes include perhaps his most iconic image as he doggedly tries to walk against wind that won’t let him move at all. They also contain one of Keaton’s riskiest pieces of slapstick: the winds blow the wall of a house down on him, with an open window landing exactly where he’s standing. He had used similar gags in Back Stage (1919) and One Week (1920), but this time he used a real wall that could have killed him. Half the crew walked off the set to protest his disregard for his own safety. Although now considered a classic, the period reconstruction and cyclone effects, and Keaton’s slow shooting methods, made it his biggest financial flop. This screening will feature a world premiere original score composed and conducted by Maestro Carl Davis, CBE.

(d. Charles Reisner, 70m, Digital)

World premiere restoration with music commissioned by Cohen Film Collection LLC.


Josefina Vergara, concertmaster
Jason Issokson

Nick Yee

Fang-Fang Xu

Steve Dress

Sandy M. Hughes

Chris Stoutenborough

Marissa Benedict

Tenor Trombone
Noah Gladstone

Joseph Jackson

Jason Goodman, principal
Bruce Carver
Don Williams, drums

Vicki Ray

Aron Kallay

Edward Trybek

Orchestra Manager & Contractor
J. Anthony McAlister
McAlister Arts LLC

The members of the orchestra are represented by Professional Musicians Local 47, AFM.

Blüthner piano furnished by Kasimoff-Blüthner Piano Co., Hollywood

Music performed by arrangement with Faber Music Ltd, London.

In attendance: Carl Davis