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The Saphead Blu-ray Review

“The Saphead” isn’t one of Buster Keaton’s best works, but it’s still worth a watch for fans of the legendary film star.

Based on the plays “The Henrietta” and “The New Henrietta,” “The Saphead” follows the adventures of the spoiled son of a financier named Bertie Van Alstyne. Amidst complications with the love of his life (Agnes) and his rich father who is threatening to cut him off financially, Bertie sets out on a quest to win the heart of Agnes and to find a job. Along the way, there are a few subplots involving the family business, Bertie’s brother-in-law, the Stock Exchange, and marriage.

If you’re expecting a Buster Keaton comedy in the vein of “The General,” you’re going to be disappointed by “The Saphead” (which features Buster Keaton’s first starring role). Unlike “The General” and most of his acclaimed work, Keaton did not write or direct “The Saphead” nor is this film as comedic as his classic gems. Instead, it’s a very slow paced melodrama with comedic elements spread around here and there.

Had the film featured more comedic hijinks, it may have received more praise. After all, the film’s best moments consist of humorous scenes of the bumbling, misguided, dopey Bertie. Whether he is slipping and sliding around the Stock Exchange floor or trying to get arrested to impress Agnes, those scenes make the film compelling. It’s the financial and family melodrama that really makes the film drag. It’s a shame too because Keaton deserved a better starring vehicle than this.

Summary: While it’s an interesting curiosity for Buster Keaton aficiandos, it’s definitely one of Keaton’s lesser works. Now, bring on “The Navigator” Blu-ray, Kino!


Anyone who has ever seen a silent film on Blu-ray knows there is only so much that can be done with these prints. The film, which is presented in 1.33:1 1080p, is predictably littered with lines, scratches, and print jumps. However, the film has been noticeably cleaned up and the hi-def clarity makes everything from the character faces to the pattern on a chair look better than it ever has.

This disc contains 3 audio tracks. The standard edition of the film gives you the option of playing Robert Israel’s score in 5.1 DTS-HD and 2.0 LPCM Stereo. Naturally, the 5.1 track is the sharper of the two. The third track is Ben Model’s score (in 2.0 Stereo) for the alternate version of the film which is on par with Israel’s score.

* A photo gallery of Buster Keaton’s vaudeville days.
* An alternate version of “The Saphead” featuring different shots, a different score, and less color tint.
* “A Pair Of Sapheads”- If you want to know about the differences between the two versions, watch this extra.
* “Why They Call Him Buster”- A promo for “Lost Keaton” featuring various Keaton stunts.
* “Buster Keaton: Life Of The Party”- A 29 minute audio recording of Keaton talking about his childhood while at a party. The quality is not the best, but it’s an interesting listen if you’re a Keaton aficiando.

July 20, 2012 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | ,

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