Born into a family of vaudevillians, Buster Keaton made his first film appearance in 1917 at the age of 21. By the early 1920s, he had established himself as one of the geniuses of silent cinema with such films as Sherlock, Jr. and The Navigator and his 1925 work, The General, placed at number 18 in the American Film Institute's poll of the 100 greatest features, the highest ranked silent film on the survey. But with the advent of sound in the late 1920s, silent stars like Keaton began to fall out of favor and the great comedian's career began to decline.
In The Fall of Buster Keaton, James Neibaur assesses Keaton's work during the talking picture era, especially those made at MGM, Educational, and Columbia studios. While giving some attention to the early part of Keaton's career, Neibaur focuses on Keaton's contract work with the three studios, as well as his subsequent work as a gagman, supporting player, and television pitchman. The book also recounts the resurgence of interest in Keaton's silent work, which resulted in a lifetime achievement Oscar and worldwide recognition before his death in 1966. This fascinating account of an artist's struggle and triumph during the more challenging period of his career will be of interest to anyone wanting to learn about one of film's most influential performers.