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. The event will be followed by a book signing and copies of Camera Man: Buster Keaton, the Dawn of Cinema, and the invention of the Twentieth Century will be available for purchase, courtesy of Shakespeare & Co.

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.

Stevens on Steamboat Bill, Jr.:

“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.”

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.

Stevens on One Week:

“A high-quality copy of this short film should be given to every newlywed couple as a housewarming gift … One Week is a valentine, a mitzvah, and a design for living.”

Dana Stevens

Author Bio: 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 Bio: 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.