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Programme booklet, Hamburg, Nov 15, 2012

Steamboat Bill, Jr.

Buster Keaton, having grown up in close contact with vaudeville, began his career at the age of four and made his first film appearance at 21. He enjoyed great artistic freedom, giving his talents room to develop their full potential on camera before he joined MGM in 1928. This is how he explained that he never filmed according to a strict formula but oriented himself according to a loosely outlined plotline and group of ideas. He gathered inspiration within this framework and filled in gaps with improvisation. He has become famous for the extraordinary stunt in which the wall of a house falls on him, only to be saved by an open window. STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. is Buster Keaton’s last independently produced film and as such offers as series of particularly audacious and creative ideas as well as a solid dramaturgical design.

The story: When William Canfield, known as Steamboat Bill, reunites with his son after years of separation on his steamboat on the shores of the Mississippi, he is disappointed. Steamboat Bill, Jr. (Buster Keaton) is, in his opinion, not only a sissy with bad taste in hats but also cheeky enough to fall in love with his strongest competition, the daughter of the nouveau riche banker John James King. A series of comic events ensues while William Canfield tries to make a man out of his son, who is busy meeting Mary on the sly and rushing to get his father out of jail. It is the arrival of a disastrous storm that gives Steamboat Bill, Jr. the chance to prove himself. In the course of the spectacular events he succeeds at saving his father and the Kings from drowning, thus reconciling the families to one another.


Timothy Brock (New composition)

  small orchestra (16 - 45 Musicians)    
1+1/pic.1/ca.1+1/bcl.1 – – timp.3perc – hp – strings – banjo