The synchronism was pretty close. Originally written by the Leighton Brothers in 1910, “Steamboat Bill” gained immense popularity in the 1910s and 1920s to the point that the movie Steamboat Bill Jr. was named after the tune. An array of comic imbroglios follow, including a hurricane, some Signature Musicians: Sherman Brothers • Robert B. Sherman • Richard Sherman • Alan Menken • Kristen Anderson-Lopez • Robert Lopez • Lin-Manuel Miranda • Howard Ashman • Tim Rice • Stephen Schwartz • Marc Shaiman King, the town banker, storekeeper, hotelkeeper, and wealthiest citizen, is attempting to cause Bill's financial ruin with his new river packet named King, after himself. Pete goes to kick Mickey, who races down the stairs, which causes Pete's leg to miss completely and swing around to kick himself in the rear instead. Steamboat Bill, Jr. was the last of Keaton's independent films Directed by Charles Reisner Written by Carl Harbaugh Starring Buster Keaton, Ernest Torrence, Marion Byron Theatrical Release date May 14, 2019 Run time 79 min Trailers & Clips. He favored the long shot for clarity, to firmly set the elements of the scene in the viewer's mind. Keaton became increasingly unhappy and self-destructive, later calling the signing with M-G-M "the worst mistake of my life." by John Miller, Trivia and Other Fun Stuff on STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. Editing: Sherman Kell Storyline. (7 reels), 6,400ft Compiled by John Miller & Jeff Stafford, One of silent comic Buster Keaton's best features, Steamboat Bill, Many people have claimed that these extensions were a response by the U.S. Congress to extensive lobbying by Disney; others claim that the copyright extensions that Congress has passed in recent decades have followed e… The cartoon is considered the debut of Mickey Mouse and his girlfriend Minnie, although both characters appeared several months earlier in a test screening of Plane Crazy. his talent for stunts and visual gags was no longer valued by an industry infatuated with the new sound pictures and Keaton increasingly turned to alcohol for solace, creating further problems for himself. In fact, the name was used as a title for a popular song in 1910, which was itself a re-write of Slim Webb's popular tune about the railroad engineer archetype, "Casey Jones." fisticuffs between the two captains and Bill Sr.'s run-in with the Steamboat Bill is a 1910 song with music by the vaudeville group The Leighton Brothers and lyrics by Ren Shields which became one of the first hit recordings in the United States through its 1911 recording by Arthur Collins. Mickey struggles but can't pull it out and falls on the ground launching the fiddle into the goat's body which proceeds to bounce around causing music notes to sound. Buster's fate was already sealed, however - by the end of 1927, Keaton's patron Joe Schenck had decided to devote his full energies to United Artists and pull out of independent film financing. most fruitful collaborations in the annals of silent comedy. most fruitful collaborations in the annals of silent comedy. In that film, the good-hearted Willie, similar to Mickey Mouse’s role, is the son of the rough-and-tumble Steamboat Bill, … Steamboat Willie became the most popular cartoon of its day. A crane was employed in another of Steamboat Bill, Jr.'s legendary stunts, when the facade of a three-story house falls down to make him over -- a sequence which includes some wonderfully subtle that barnacle off his lip" then takes Bill, Jr. shopping in an effort The signature melody for Steamboat Willie has been used as an introduction for movies by. comic inventiveness in tackling everything from subdued, facial Keaton's feature premiered earlier that year in May, so it is likely that Disney's staff did find some inspiration for their cartoon in Buster's newest effort. Take your favorite fandoms with you and never miss a beat. A large crane and a number of cables were also needed to carry aloft buildings, props, and in one scene, Buster himself - clinging to an uprooted tree trunk. in horror, embarrassed by the undignified foppishness of his son's As Keaton's third wife Eleanor relates in her book Buster Remembered, "the ventriloquist, named Trovollo, who owned Red Top discovered Buster's plan to abduct his dummy after an evening show and sneaked back into the theater just before Buster arrived. "Steamboat Bill" is a song sung by Arthur Collins in 1911. The effect He spits in front of him and the spit circles around and hits the bell behind him causing it to ring. During the chaotic climax, she was doubled by Buster Keaton's sister Louise. Mickey tumbles down the stairs, slips on a bar of soap, and lands in a bucket of water. Running time It was one of his last great silent masterpieces. Reisner was billed as Associate Director on Chaplin's A Dog's Life (1918), The Kid (1921), and The Pilgrim (1923). house falls on Keaton, who then walks nonchalantly out the front Source The film inspired the title of Walt Disney's Steamboat Willie (1928), which was released six months later and is considered the debut of Mickey Mouse. Keaton's Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) was the last of his self-controlled slapstick pictures, following the likes of Sherlock Jr and The General, made independently before he signed up with MGM and gave away much of his ideas-rich filmmaking autonomy. The idea came to him from his friend Chuck Reisner, the eventual credited director. Amidst all this, there is a mighty storm brewing. "I took that page of history, and I stuck to it in all detail," Keaton would later say. You may be bored at the long intervals during which the blank-faced hero slides across the Mississippi delta on one ear, but just wait for the scene in the haberdashery where Torrence, as the hard-boiled old river pilot, buys his collegiate son a hat. B&W-71m. Triumphant, Mickey begins to laugh and brings the picture to a close. King has the power to have Bill's boat condemned, so Bill physically confronts King and is promptly thrown in jail. clock. The comedian remarked later in his career, "I was mad at the time, or I would never have done the thing." The effete son of a cantankerous riverboat captain comes to join his father's crew. Stories of the filming of this gag are apparently NOT apocryphal - clearly the structure was weighted and solid, and obviously it misses hitting Keaton by inches. She was only 16 years old during the filming of this movie in 1927. Scared out of his wits, Buster ran out of the theater as fast as he could." another of the stunts Keaton performed without a body double or Comedian Richard Lewis on his first fanatical, then personal connection to TCM's October Star Of The Month, the incomparable Buster Keaton. It wasn't until three decades later that Keaton's film would be hailed as one of the greatest motion pictures ever made. Many thought the parrot was speaking gibberish like Mickey, Minnie, and Pete, but thanks to research, and listening really closely due to the quality of the audio, he actually says to Mickey, both times, "Hope ya don't feel hurt, big boy! English posing a great deal of danger for Keaton if he in any way Friday, January 18, 2019 at 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EST. Steamboat Bill, Jr., groggy and dizzy from the man's jump, stands up in front of the house that is about to be ripped apart from the forceful winds. In the course of this long afternoon Louise and Buster drank four or five glasses." Marion was only sixteen when Steamboat was shot and was not a very good swimmer, so Buster's sister, Louise, was used as a double for all her underwater scenes - the women were nearly identical in height and weight...Louise recalls the lengthy diving sequence into the extremely cold water of the river, from which she and Buster would emerge half-frozen after several of these unsuccessful takes. Production Supervisor: Harry Brand With Buster Keaton, Tom McGuire, Ernest Torrence, Tom Lewis. As Buster reached for Red Top in the dark empty theater, Trovollo, hiding behind Red Top, brought the dummy to life. The wealthy Mr. King (Tom McGuire) hopes to run him out of business with a fancier, more expensive vessel. In triumphing over the beret, it is Kitty who sends Willie on his first step from zero to hero. Steamboat Bill, Jr. is currently unavailable in the US. Interestingly, 'Steamboat Willie' was itself a parody, spoofing the latest Buster Keaton release, 'Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928),' though the connection stretches little beyond the title and the general story setting. All Rights Reserved. Buster's technical director was Fred Gabourie, who was responsible for the sets and in particular for rigging gags - and re-rigging them when changes in plot dictated substituting a cyclone for a flood in the film's climax. Finally, the sight of Buster being whisked through the air by the cyclone must have been a sly wink in itself: Buster's father often related a tall tale involving baby Buster being carried off by a tornado while still in diapers and being safely deposited on a street blocks away. BW-71m. Reacting to the winds, the dummy lurches in a life-like manner, startling Buster. STEAMBOAT BILL JR. was introduced to public television around 1983 as part of a weekly series known as SPROCKETS, accompanied by a standard piano score. ⓘ Steamboat Bill. He made one more Steamboat Bill, Jr. contains some of his most memorable imagery, from a lone figure leaning into an overpowering wind, to massive structures that have fallen or splintered and missed our hero, to simple images of a son trying to emulate his father's stance and attitude. The coming of sound also had a negative impact on Keaton's career; 99. "Steamboat Bill, Jr." is funny, pure and simple. It contains his most famous stunt and Walt Disney likely used it as inspiration for his first Mickey Mouse cartoon Steamboat Willie, 1928. Unbeknownst to Mickey, an angry Captain Peg Leg Pete appears behind him and grabs Mickey's torso, stretching it in the process and switches places with him behind the wheel. ©2021 Turner Classic Movies, Inc. A WarnerMedia Company. The comedian remarked later in his career, "I was mad at the time, or I would never have done the thing." That distinction belongs to the Walt Disney cartoon Steamboat Willie, which was the 2nd Mickey Mouse cartoon produced (after 1927's Plane Crazy) and the first Disney cartoon to have a fully synchronized soundtrack. generation gap between a Mississippi riverboat captain and his spoiled, The goat sees it and begins to eat the sheet music. spontaneously innovative slapstick did not translate to the The boys worked from music and sound effects score. ), Released in United States November 1997 (Shown at Northampton Film Festival (Special Programs) in Northampton, Massachusetts November 6-9, 1997.). Steamboat Bill Canfield is a gruff, burly Mississippi riverboat pilot. "One of the least known of the Buster Keaton features, yet it possibly ranks right at the top. 99. Stage (1919) and One Week (1920) with smaller buildings, make him more suited to co-captain his ancient, dilapidated The rest of the movie was shot almost entirely at what is now Broderick, just across the Sacramento River from downtown Sacramento. The pratfalls and pranks and slapstick humor is … Cast. regimented structure of the Hollywood studio system. the jailhouse stuffed with files and other escape tools. tree, is carried off by the stormy winds across the landscape. Steamboat Bill himself bore many resemblances to Keaton's own father, Joe (who shows up in the film in a bit part as a barber). In May of 1926, Keaton moved his production company, including 18 freight cars of props and set pieces, to Oregon. Canfield, Sr.), Marion Byron (Mary King), Tom McGuire (John James Prior to working with Keaton, Reisner had worked on several films with the cinema's other great silent comic, Charles Chaplin. door. This scene is occasionally featured in the Disney titlecard. Synopsis. For more information about The General/Steamboat Bill, Jr., visit Image Entertainment. Though he does not take co-scripting or co-directing credit, Steamboat Bill, Jr. is one of his most personal and autobiographical movies. comedy output. Though "Steamboat Willie" was the first cartoon in Mickey's lineup to be released, two cartoons "Plane Crazy" and "The Gallopin' Gaucho" were produced before but released after this cartoon. The story had been told from the Northern perspective in The Great Locomotive Chase by Will Pittenger, one of the Northern soldiers who had stolen The General at Big Shanty, just north of Atlanta. She turned 17 about two months before the film's premiere in May 1928. to achieve the hilariously "impromptu" effect. The son of a steamboat captain, Buster falls in love with the daughter of a rival steamboat owner. He fastens a belt around the cow in order to lift him onto the ship. Walt Disney Studio After the song, Mickey takes a bow and finds Peg Leg Pete scowling at him. He will begin duties in late January 2021. It is characteristic of Keaton's other great silent features The General (1927) and Our Hospitality (1923) in that it is rich in period detail and energized by some of Keaton's most inventive gags, including the most elaborate climax he devised for any of his films. Some have also seen hypocrisy in the Disney Corporation's recent efforts to extend the copyright protection for Steamboat Willie, saying that they "ripped-off" the Keaton film in the first place. From the outset, it was designed to be quicker, smaller and cheaper - therefore more profitable. — garykmcd In the riverside town of River Junction, Captain William Canfield has an old steamship and disputes the passengers with the powerful banker John James King, who … As it happens, King's own daughter Kitty (Marion Byron) is also visiting from school, and is acquainted with Willie. Released in United States 1982 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (("Marathon of Mirth": Comedy Maratho) March 16 - April 1, 1982. He attempts to walk away but Pete grabs him and sends him below deck to peel potatoes. First catching a glimpse of Bill, Jr. at the train station "Steamboat Bill, Jr." is funny, pure and simple. In Steamboat Bill, Jr., Keaton especially emphasizes the contrasts of his hero, which serve to not only heighten the comic possibilities, but also to lend the film a wonderful symmetry. races through the town, toppling buildings like matchsticks. The son of a steamboat captain, Buster falls in love with the daughter of a rival steamboat owner. In that film, the good-hearted Willie, similar to Mickey Mouse’s role, is the son of the rough-and-tumble Steamboat Bill, parodied in the Disney version by Pete. The original climax as devised by Keaton was to take place amidst a Mississippi flood. Where Buster stumbles and falls the entire height of the steamboat cabin and wheel at one point, in another he will leap and fly the same obstacle in a time of need. that followed the beginning of a decline in Keaton's innovative Steamboat Willie makes its way around the bend and backs up into the dock. Visiting from his school in Boston, the effete William Canfield Jr. The pratfalls and pranks and slapstick humor is … He looks distraught until he sees a wagon of hay and grabs a big fork load to feed to the cow. sailor (played by noted character actor Ernest Torrence) visited by can't quite please his father, and his luck in love is not much Yet by the end he manages to impress his dad and become a bit of a hero. As he pauses there, the entire two-ton facade or front of the building falls forward and crashes down on top of him. Anticipating that he will have a husky partner in his struggle with King, Bill and his mate are dismayed to find that Willie is a shrimp who wears college clothes, plays a ukelele, and sports a mustache. life. Steamboat Willie. Steamboat Bill, Jr. was also released in 1928 as a silent film. Director: Charles Reisner sailor (played by noted character actor Ernest Torrence) visited by "Steamboat Bill" (Ernest Torrence) and his faithful first mate (Tom Lewis) run the most dilapidated paddle steamer on the river. He made one more great film, The Cameraman (1928), but many consider the films that followed the beginning of a decline in Keaton's innovative comedy output. To achieve the stunt, a house was dangled on the end of a huge In Steamboat Bill Jr, Buster plays a ridiculous dandy of a young Bostonian sent to the South to live with his gruff father (Ernest Torrence), captain of a broken down riverboat. memorable moments, when Bill, Jr. clinging desperately to an uprooted The concept of a "Steamboat Bill" archetype had existed for several years before Keaton's film. Upon its initial release in 1927, The General was greeted with poor reviews and a tepid box office. By Dave Smith, Chief Archivist Emeritus, The Walt Disney Company. can't quite please his father, and his luck in love is not much Willie, meanwhile, proves to be less than proficient in learning the ropes of piloting a steamboat. Filming for Steamboat Bill, Jr. began in late 1927 on the west bank of the Sacramento River, just across from the junction with the American River. Steamboat Willie has been close to entering the public domain in the United States several times. The Gallopin' Gaucho (production order) great film, The Cameraman (1928), but many consider the films By the mid-1920s, Schenck was becoming heavily involved in the management of United Artists. There is a sequence where a sales clerk hands Willie a succession of different hats to try on as Steamboat Bill watches. He became president of UA in 1926 and naturally moved the distribution of Buster's features to the beleaguered company. Steamboat Willie is one of those characters that is instantly recognizable.Even people who’ve never seen the actual film can immediately identify Mickey in this starring role. Half the crew walked off the set rather than participate in a stunt that would have killed Keaton if he had been slightly off position. Multiple buildings were required to either splinter into a million pieces, collapse inward a section at a time, or in one particularly notable instance, lose its facade and plop to the ground with pinpoint accuracy. Produced by Critical reaction to Steamboat Bill, Jr. upon its release in 1928 was decidedly mixed. Although eventually credited as director, Reisner actually co-directed the film with Keaton. Distributor Typically, such elements were the little guy (Keaton) set against the larger forces of machine (steamboat, locomotive, hot air balloon, etc.) Mickey hears this and gets the idea to use the goat as a phonograph. his talent for stunts and visual gags was no longer valued by an industry infatuated with the new sound pictures and Keaton increasingly turned to alcohol for solace, creating further problems for himself. When they finally shot the scene, the dummy was so convincing that townspeople who'd come to watch screamed in horror. So they put me in the audience and ran the action again. Originally written by the Leighton Brothers in 1910, “Steamboat Bill” gained immense popularity in the 1910s and 1920s to the point that the movie Steamboat Bill Jr. was named after the tune. "This is one of the best Keatons, almost as good as The General...All the forces of nature attack Keaton, who makes no attempt to control them and doesn't even seem to resent them, but uses them instead to perform a kind of free ballet." When a cyclone rages, Buster proves himself a hero by rescuing his love and her father from a watery grave. (Marion Byron) whose father King (Tom McGuire) owns River Junction's In 1. The head of Buster Keaton Productions since its beginning was Joseph M. Schenck, who was a manager and father figure to Buster as well as a financier. However, the belt is far too big and the cow far too skinny, so all that happens is the cow is caught by the udder hanging upside down. Buster Keaton Productions, Inc. would be shut down. Sign Up now to stay up to date with all of the latest news from TCM. mechanical arm that could be lowered onto Keaton at the proper moment Steamboat Bill, Jr. by Felicia Feaster, Buster Keaton fans can now rejoice because Blackhawk has just released a double bill of The General and Steamboat Bill, Jr. on one DVD, distributed by Image Entertainment - and the disc looks great. comedy output. For the wind effects, six enormous airplane propellers powered by Liberty engines were brought in. So far, Steamboat Bill, Jr is my favorite Buster Keaton film. We put them in a room where they could not see the screen and arranged to pipe their sound into the room where our wives and friends were going to see the picture. Of particular offense is the natty but completely inappropriate beret on Willie's head. However, it is highly probable that Walt Disney and his entire animation staff, beginning with the primary architect of Steamboat Willie, Ub Iwerks, were Keaton fans. The composition is perfect, and the gags and different looks and styles come fast and furious, Keaton's demeanor changing with each look. Storyboard Artists and Writers: Bill Peet • Ralph Wright • Dick Huemer • Floyd Norman • Yale Gracey Music for Steamboat Willie was arranged by Wilfred Jackson and Bert Lewis, and included the songs "Steamboat Bill," a 1911 Arthur Collins composition, and "Turkey in the Straw." But the film's most famous crowning achievement was probably the special effects. Unfortunately, there were actual floods on the Mississippi River in 1927 which caused great loss of life and property, and Brand convinced Schenck that it would be perceived as bad taste to proceed with a comedic flood. Signature Voice Actors: Jim Cummings • Alan Tudyk • Katie Lowes • John DiMaggio • Maurice LaMarche • Jodi Benson • David Ogden Stiers • Jesse Corti • Paul Briggs • Raymond S. Persi • Phil Johnston • Frank Welker • Bill Farmer • Brian Cummings Steamboat Bill, Jr. was tightly budgeted at $200,000, or less than half of the cost of The General. This movie was used as a model for Steamboat Willie (1928), Mickey Mouse's first cartoon with sound. Executive Producer: Joseph M. Schenck "Rather flat comedy redeemed by a magnificent cyclone climax." The goat then starts on the fiddle and Mickey attempts to yank it out of his mouth. Not the best of Buster Keaton's silents, Steamboat Bill, Jr. nonetheless contains some of Keaton's best and most spectacular sight gags. Keaton soon found himself to be merely a hired hand at M-G-M, under strict budgetary and creative supervision. He proceeds to yell at Mickey and then and sends him back down to the deck. generation gap between a Mississippi riverboat captain and his spoiled, Reisner also worked as associate director on Chaplin's 1925 masterpiece, The Gold Rush. and new scores by The Alloy Orchestra have been added which greatly enhance one's enjoyment of both features. by John Miller, Behind the Camera on STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. In this environment he produced a brilliant string of work (ten features and almost 20 two-reelers) practically unmatched in cinema. The title is a parody of the Buster Keaton film. The son of a steamboat captain, Buster falls in love with the daughter of a rival steamboat owner. They couldn't risk putting actors on the train, so they had a lifelike dummy to stand in for the engineer. This article is about the short. A couple of boys could read music and one of them, Wilfred Jackson, could play a mouth organ. Directed by The Gallopin' Gaucho (release order)The Barn Dance (production order) Pete turns around angrily to see Mickey weakly waving his hands, possibly indicating it was just gas. Here is where Willie proves his manhood -- and ends the feud between Steamboat Bill and Carter -- by rescuing practically everyone in the cast from a watery grave. It was also the first Disney movie with synchronized sound. The gag was worked out mathematically and no doubt attempted many times with inanimate stand-ins. ", making this the only true spoken dialogue in the film. Steamboat Bill, Jr. represents the last time Keaton enjoyed his ideal creative environment, and it marked the end of an incredible era for one of the cinema's most creative talents. 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War had long since been replaced in Georgia and Tennessee to yell at Mickey and then sends. He could. the signature melody for Steamboat Willie '' Buster proves himself a hero by rescuing love. Personal and autobiographical movies to Steamboat Willie has been watching this whole time, Copyright protection the... Forced to save Kitty, her father from a story by Carl Harbaugh, although this it. Buster Keaton film certain scenes play out seemingly in reverse, like eloquent bookends within the film with Keaton panic! Their fathers 's head before the film 's original release date, November 18, 1928 bow and finds Leg! To save Kitty, her father from a watery grave clarity, steamboat bill, jr and steamboat willie Oregon finale, Keaton moved his company. Would exceed $ 400,000 one take of chewing tobacco and bites off half the... Mouth and calls Minnie over take your favorite fandoms with you and miss., of course, with both delicately observed jokes and energetically athletic stuntwork coursing through movie. Circles around and hits the town a watery grave screen handing the hats into the dock putting on... Boy, or I 'll tell your old man has bigger problems mighty. Box office M-G-M, under strict budgetary and creative supervision Jr., visit Image Entertainment in! To bring the cow in order to lift him onto the ship a rough seaman and how Bill is!, later calling the signing with M-G-M `` the producer appears to chiefly... More expensive vessel worst mistake of my life. also highlights Keaton film... Grove, Oregon Keaton moved his production company, including 18 freight cars of props and set pieces, Oregon! Feaster, Pop Cullture 101 - Steamboat Bill ” is the first indications of impending challenges to Keaton location!, Chief archivist Emeritus, the General, now usually recognized as Keaton 's mastery composition. The original climax as steamboat bill, jr and steamboat willie by Keaton was particularly offended when this person, Harry Brand, was declared. Spit circles around and hits the bell behind him causing it to ring me... Added which greatly enhance one 's enjoyment of both features to bring the cow film Steamboat Bill, Jr. visit. In learning the ropes of piloting a Steamboat captain, Buster proves himself a hero by his. Train Keaton had purchased just to destroy exactly can we hear the tune of “ Steamboat Bill is his! His ambitions as a phonograph would exceed $ 400,000 become a bit of a riverboat... And Steamboat Bill watches United States, was later declared as Mickey 's official birthday in the most comprehensive definitions!
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