Thursday, June 14, 2007

College (1927)

Better than Harold Lloyd's The Freshman, which has a similar setup, but this is still an uncharacteristically weak vehicle for Buster Keaton. The melancholy that hangs in the back of (and gives weight to) a lot of Keaton's best work (Cops, Sherlock, Jr., Neighbors) is allowed to seep into the framework of the plot and infuse every scene; thus, what should be a laugh riot feels curiously damp, as though Keaton's frustrations with the loss of creative control were externalizing themselves via this tale of a smart young man who tries and repeatedly fails to gain entry into the popular circles by taking up sports. Still pretty funny stuff, of course -- the rowing climax is rousing, as is the bit where Buster finally gets to show off all he's learned on the field, and many of the expected pratfalls amuse even in this lesser context -- but it's not essential Buster by any stretch.

Grade: B-


Blogger Paul C. said...

I think I enjoyed this one a whole lot more than you did. It's minor Keaton, but that's not so bad seeing as how I'm nuts about Keaton. I think a lot of my enjoyment came from seeing it within a week or so of THE FRESHMAN- whereas Lloyd tries so damn hard to make us laugh and practically makes out with the camera trying to make us love him, Keaton makes it all look so perfect. I guess it just goes to show that when you're a genius, it looks oh so much easier than when you aren't.

9:48 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

What's funny is that I agree with you on The Freshman, yet that particular film doesn't seem representative of the other Lloyds I've seen -- Safety Last! in particular had him doing his thing like it was no big deal.

Maybe I'm being a bit hard on College, but chalk it up to the enormous expectations I have for anything Keaton is in -- I was similarly grumpy about the probably-just-fine Three Ages.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Paul C. said...

Well, I've seen maybe three or foure Lloyd vehicles, and SAFETY LAST aside, the guy does nothing for me. THE FRESHMAN is actually kind of painful though, and seeing him mince around as the "comically" obtuse hero is pretty embarrassing.

2:43 PM  

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