Buster Keaton was one of the most influential comedians and filmmakers of the silent era, and his films remain popular today.

Known for his deadpan humor, physical comedy, and inventive use of visual gags, Keaton’s films are both entertaining and innovative. Here are some of his best films that are great introductions to his work:

“The General” (1926): This classic film is often considered Keaton’s masterpiece. It tells the story of a locomotive engineer during the American Civil War, and features some of the most inventive and impressive stunts of Keaton’s career.

Buster Keaton was one of the most influential comedians and filmmakers of the silent era, and his films remain popular today.

Known for his deadpan humor, physical comedy, and inventive use of visual gags, Keaton’s films are both entertaining and innovative. Here are some of his best films that are great introductions to his work:

“The General” (1926): This classic film is often considered Keaton’s masterpiece. It tells the story of a locomotive engineer during the American Civil War, and features some of the most inventive and impressive stunts of Keaton’s career.

Best Buster Keaton Films

Let’s jump (pun intended!) into the top Buster Keaton movies.

1. The General (1926)

“The General” is a classic silent film directed by Buster Keaton and Clyde Bruckman. It was released in 1926 and is considered to be one of the greatest silent films ever made.

The film tells the story of a train engineer named Johnnie Gray (played by Keaton), who is rejected from serving in the Confederate army during the American Civil War.

When his beloved train, “The General,” is stolen by Union soldiers, Johnnie sets out to retrieve it and rescue his girlfriend who is on board.

The film is notable for its stunning visuals and action sequences, which were accomplished with minimal special effects and relied heavily on Keaton’s physical comedy skills.

The train chase scenes in particular are some of the most impressive in cinematic history.

Despite its critical acclaim and reputation as a classic, “The General” was not a commercial success upon its release. It was overshadowed by other big-budget films of the time and was not widely seen by audiences until it was re-released in the 1950s.

However, it has since been recognized as a masterpiece of silent cinema and has influenced generations of filmmakers.

   

Overall, “The General” is a thrilling adventure story with a charming and sympathetic protagonist, breathtaking action sequences, and a timeless sense of humor. It is a must-see for fans of silent cinema and anyone interested in the history of film.

The General
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Buster Keaton, Marion Mack (Actors)
  • Buster Keaton (Director) - Al Boasberg (Writer) - Joseph M. Schenck (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

2. Sherlock Jr. (1924)

“Sherlock Jr.” is a 1924 silent comedy film directed by and starring Buster Keaton. The film follows a projectionist (played by Keaton) who aspires to become a detective like Sherlock Holmes.

When he is accused of stealing a watch, he falls asleep and dreams that he is the great detective, trying to solve the crime and clear his name.

The film is renowned for its innovative use of special effects, including a sequence where Keaton’s character enters the film within the film, seamlessly transitioning from the real world to the world of the movie.

This groundbreaking technique was achieved using a complex system of mirrors and precise choreography, and is still admired by filmmakers and audiences today.

The film is also notable for its inventive visual gags, physical comedy, and Keaton’s impeccable timing and athleticism.

He performs a number of dangerous stunts throughout the film, including riding on the handlebars of a motorcycle and jumping onto a moving car, demonstrating his remarkable skill as a physical comedian.

Overall, “Sherlock Jr.” is a timeless classic that showcases Buster Keaton’s unmatched talent as a filmmaker, actor, and physical comedian. It remains a beloved and influential film in the history of cinema, and is a must-see for fans of classic silent comedies.

Sherlock Jr.
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Buster Keaton, Joe Keaton, Kathryn McGuire (Actors)
  • Buster Keaton (Director) - Buster Keaton (Writer) - Buster Keaton (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

3. Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)

“Steamboat Bill, Jr.” is a 1928 silent comedy film directed by Charles Reisner and starring Buster Keaton.

The film tells the story of a young man named William Canfield Jr., nicknamed “Steamboat Bill,” who returns home to reconcile with his estranged father, a gruff and tough steamboat captain.

The film is notable for its impressive stunts and special effects, including the memorable hurricane sequence, which features a house collapsing around Keaton while he stands in the perfect spot to avoid getting crushed.

The scene is considered one of the most iconic in Keaton’s career and is often cited as an example of his inventive use of physical comedy.

In addition to the memorable stunts, “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” also features Keaton’s trademark deadpan humor and clever visual gags.

The film is also notable for its depiction of a changing America, as the steamboat is slowly being replaced by more modern forms of transportation.

Overall, “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” is a classic example of Keaton’s unique style of physical comedy and inventive storytelling.

It is considered one of his most successful films and remains a beloved classic of the silent era.

Steamboat Bill Jr.
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Buster Keaton, Tom McGuire (Actors)
  • Charles Reisner (Director) - Carl Harbaugh (Writer) - Joseph M. Schenk (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

4. Seven Chances (1925)

“Seven Chances” is a silent comedy film directed by and starring Buster Keaton. It was released in 1925 and is based on the play of the same name by Roi Cooper Megrue.

The film follows the story of a young man named Jimmie Shannon (played by Keaton), who stands to inherit a fortune from his grandfather’s will, but only on the condition that he gets married by 7:00 PM on his 27th birthday, which happens to be that same day.

Desperate to get married and claim his inheritance, Jimmie proposes to his girlfriend, but she rejects him.

Jimmie then embarks on a series of comical misadventures as he tries to find a bride in a hurry, including a memorable chase scene in which he is pursued by a large group of women.

   

“Seven Chances” is a classic silent comedy with a great deal of physical humor and slapstick comedy.

Keaton’s performance is especially noteworthy, as he displays his characteristic deadpan expression and acrobatic physicality throughout the film.

The film also features some impressive stunt work, including a dangerous sequence in which a large boulder chases Keaton down a hill.

Overall, “Seven Chances” is a classic example of Keaton’s unique brand of humor and is a must-see for fans of silent comedy and early cinema. Its enduring popularity is a testament to its timeless appeal and Keaton’s comedic genius.

Seven Chances
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Buster Keaton, T. Roy Barnes, Ruth Dwyer (Actors)
  • Buster Keaton (Director) - Clyde Bruckman (Writer) - Buster Keaton (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

5. Go West (1925)

“Go West” is a 1925 silent comedy film directed by and starring Buster Keaton. The film follows a young man (played by Keaton) who leaves the city to head west and make his fortune as a cowboy.

He eventually finds work on a cattle ranch, but his lack of experience with the animals leads to a series of mishaps and disasters.

Throughout the film, Keaton’s character interacts with various cowboys, ranchers, and Native Americans, often with hilarious and unexpected results.

The film is noted for its inventive and physically demanding stunts, including a sequence where Keaton tries to milk a cow and another where he tries to ride a steer.

As with many of Keaton’s films, “Go West” contains a number of memorable visual gags and comic set pieces, such as a scene where Keaton’s character tries to sneak a cow onto a train by disguising it as a horse.

The film also features stunning scenery and impressive cinematography, capturing the wide-open spaces and rugged terrain of the American West.

Overall, “Go West” is a classic silent comedy that showcases Buster Keaton’s unique brand of physical comedy and humor.

It remains a beloved and influential film in the history of cinema, and is a must-see for fans of classic Hollywood comedies.

Go West
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Buster Keaton (Actor)
  • Buster Keaton (Director) - Buster Keaton (Writer) - Buster Keaton (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

6. Three Ages (1923)

“Three Ages” is a 1923 silent comedy film directed by Buster Keaton and Eddie Cline. The film is a parody of D.W. Griffith’s epic film “Intolerance” and tells three parallel love stories set in the Stone Age, ancient Rome, and modern-day America.

The film features Keaton’s trademark deadpan humor and inventive visual gags. In each of the three eras, Keaton’s character is a hapless lover who must compete for the affections of his true love against other suitors.

The film features some impressive set design, including a large-scale recreation of ancient Rome, and showcases Keaton’s talents as a physical comedian and stuntman.

One of the most memorable scenes in “Three Ages” involves Keaton trying to win his love’s heart by playing football in the modern-day segment of the film.

The scene features some impressive physical comedy and has become a classic example of Keaton’s unique style of humor.

Overall, “Three Ages” is a charming and inventive film that showcases Keaton’s talents as a comedian and filmmaker.

The film’s exploration of love and courtship throughout history provides a unique and entertaining viewing experience, and its clever parody of “Intolerance” adds an extra layer of humor for fans of film history.

The Three Ages (Silent)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Buster Keaton, Margaret Leahy, Wallace Beery (Actors)
  • Buster Keaton (Director) - Buster Keaton (Writer) - Joseph Schenck (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

7. The Navigator (1924)

The Navigator” is a silent comedy film directed by and starring Buster Keaton, released in 1924.

The film tells the story of wealthy Rollo Treadway (played by Keaton), who decides to take a trip around the world on his own, and finds himself aboard a steamship that is adrift at sea.

Along with his crush, Betsy O’Brien (played by Kathryn McGuire), Rollo must figure out how to survive on the ship, which is completely devoid of crew and other passengers.

As they navigate the ship together, Rollo and Betsy encounter various obstacles, including a giant octopus and a tribe of cannibals. They eventually arrive in an exotic and foreign land, where they must find a way to signal for help and get back home.

“The Navigator” is a classic example of Keaton’s unique brand of physical comedy and slapstick humor.

The film features several of his signature gags, including a hilarious scene in which Keaton attempts to cook a meal in the ship’s kitchen, with disastrous results.

The film is also notable for its impressive special effects, which include a sequence in which the ship is thrown into the air by a massive wave.

Overall, “The Navigator” is a delightful and hilarious film, and is considered to be one of Keaton’s best works.

Its inventive humor and impressive visuals have made it a favorite among audiences and film historians alike. It is a must-see for fans of silent comedy and early cinema.

The Navigator
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Buster Keaton, Kathryn McGuire, Frederick Vroom (Actors)
  • Buster Keaton (Director) - Clyde Bruckman (Writer) - Buster Keaton (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

8. The Goat (1921)

“The Goat” is a 1921 silent comedy film directed by Buster Keaton and Malcolm St. Clair. The film follows Keaton’s character, who is mistakenly identified as a dangerous criminal on the loose, leading to a series of misadventures and comic mishaps.

Throughout the film, Keaton’s character tries to evade the police and the actual criminal, often with the help of a young woman who he meets along the way.

The film features a number of hilarious visual gags and inventive comic set pieces, such as a scene where Keaton’s character is mistaken for a tailor and is asked to make a suit for a man in handcuffs.

One of the most memorable sequences in the film involves Keaton’s character trying to escape the police by climbing up a building and jumping across to another rooftop.

This daring stunt, performed without the use of special effects or a stunt double, is a testament to Keaton’s incredible athleticism and fearlessness as a performer.

Overall, “The Goat” is a classic silent comedy that demonstrates Buster Keaton’s unique talents as a physical comedian and filmmaker.

Its inventive gags, witty humor, and daring stunts continue to delight audiences nearly a century after its initial release, cementing its status as a timeless classic of the silent era.

The Goat
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Buster Keaton, Joe Roberts, Edward F. Cline (Actors)
  • Buster Keaton (Director) - Buster Keaton (Writer) - Joseph Schenck (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

9. Battling Butler (1926)

“Battling Butler” is a 1926 silent comedy film directed by Buster Keaton and co-directed by Charles Reisner.

The film tells the story of a wealthy young man named Alfred Butler, who pretends to be a professional boxer in order to impress the woman he loves.

As he trains for a boxing match, Butler struggles to keep up the charade and avoid revealing his true identity.

Along the way, he must contend with a tough opponent in the ring, as well as a jealous rival who threatens to expose his secret.

“Battling Butler” is notable for its inventive visual gags and clever use of physical comedy. One memorable scene features Keaton’s character accidentally starting a fire while trying to cook a meal, leading to a chaotic sequence of events as he tries to put it out.

Another scene features Keaton’s character trying to navigate a revolving door, resulting in a series of hilarious mishaps.

The film also features impressive stunts, such as Keaton’s character being knocked out of a high window and falling onto a pile of hay below.

The film’s climactic boxing match is also a highlight, as Keaton’s character must face off against a formidable opponent and somehow come out on top.

Battling Butler
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Buster Keaton, Sally O'Neil, Walter James (Actors)
  • Buster Keaton (Director) - Paul Girard Smith (Writer) - Joseph Schenck (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

10. The Balloonatic (1923)

“The Balloonatic” is a silent short film directed by and starring Buster Keaton, released in 1923. The film follows the story of Keaton’s character, who is a hapless young man that sets out on a balloon ride but ends up crash-landing in a remote wilderness.

There, he encounters a beautiful young woman (played by Phyllis Haver) who is also stranded in the wilderness. The two of them set out to explore the area, encountering various obstacles and misadventures along the way.

As with many of Keaton’s films, “The Balloonatic” is a masterclass in physical comedy and slapstick humor.

The film features several memorable sequences, including a hilarious scene in which Keaton and Haver attempt to cross a lake by walking across a series of logs, only to end up falling into the water.

The film also features some impressive stunts, such as a sequence in which Keaton uses a tree branch to propel himself through the air.

Overall, “The Balloonatic” is a charming and entertaining film, and is a great showcase for Keaton’s unique brand of humor and physicality.

Despite its relatively short runtime, the film manages to pack in a lot of laughs and memorable moments. It is a must-see for fans of silent comedy and early cinema.

The Balloonatic (1923)
  • Buster Keaton, Phyllis Haver (Actors)
  • Edward F. Cline (Director)

11. The Paleface (1922)

“The Paleface” is a 1922 silent comedy film directed by and starring Buster Keaton. The film follows a young man (played by Keaton) who travels to the American West to marry the daughter of a wealthy landowner.

Along the way, he is pursued by a band of Native Americans, who believe him to be a deadly gunslinger known as “Dead Shot Dan.”

As with many of Keaton’s films, “The Paleface” is noted for its inventive physical gags and comic set pieces.

In one memorable scene, Keaton’s character tries to hide from the Native Americans by disguising himself as a cactus, only to be discovered when the real cactus moves.

In another scene, Keaton’s character rides a horse through a saloon and jumps through a window to escape.

The film also features stunning scenery and impressive cinematography, capturing the rugged beauty of the American West.

The film’s climax takes place on a narrow train trestle, where Keaton’s character must fight off the Native Americans while balancing precariously on the tracks.

Overall, “The Paleface” is a classic silent comedy that showcases Buster Keaton’s unique brand of physical comedy and humor.

Its inventive gags, stunning visuals, and daring stunts continue to entertain audiences nearly a century after its initial release, cementing its status as a timeless classic of the silent era.

The Paleface (1922)
  • Buster Keaton (Actor)
  • Buster Keaton (Director)

12. The Love Nest (1923)

“The Love Nest” is a 1923 silent comedy film directed by and starring Buster Keaton, along with his then-wife Natalie Talmadge.

The film follows a newlywed couple who decide to move into a new house in the suburbs, only to find that it is dilapidated and in need of extensive repairs.

Throughout the film, Keaton’s character tries to fix up the house while dealing with a series of mishaps and misadventures.

One memorable scene involves Keaton’s character trying to repair a leaky roof, only to have the entire roof collapse on top of him.

Another scene features Keaton’s character trying to install a gas stove, resulting in a series of hilarious explosions.

“The Love Nest” is notable for its inventive visual gags and clever use of physical comedy. Keaton’s trademark deadpan humor is on full display, as he navigates a series of obstacles and setbacks with unwavering determination.

The film also features some impressive stunts, such as Keaton’s character riding a motorcycle through a narrow alley and narrowly avoiding a collision with a truck.

Overall, “The Love Nest” is a charming and hilarious film that showcases Buster Keaton’s talents as a physical comedian and filmmaker.

Its combination of clever gags, inventive set pieces, and impressive stunts make it a classic of the silent era and a must-watch for fans of comedy and film history.

3 Characteristics of Buster Keaton Films

Sure, here are three characteristics of Buster Keaton films:

Physical Comedy: Buster Keaton was known for his acrobatic abilities and his ability to perform dangerous stunts. Many of his films are full of physical comedy and slapstick humor, with Keaton often performing his own stunts and executing complex gags with precision and grace.

Deadpan Expression: Keaton was famous for his deadpan expression, often remaining stoic and unemotional in the face of chaos and mayhem.

This understated approach to comedy was a key part of his appeal, and helped to make him one of the most beloved comedians of his era.

Inventive Visuals: Keaton was also known for his inventive use of visuals, often using props and special effects to create surreal and fantastical imagery.

His films frequently feature elaborate sets and clever camera work, as well as a wide range of special effects, including stop-motion animation and forced perspective.

This creative use of visuals helped to make his films stand out from other comedies of the time, and remains a key part of his legacy today.

3 Reasons Why You Should Watch Buster Keaton Films

Here are three reasons why you should watch Buster Keaton films:

Unique and Inventive Physical Comedy: Buster Keaton was known for his incredible athleticism and fearlessness as a performer, and his films are full of unique and inventive physical gags and stunts.

From scaling tall buildings to performing daring jumps and falls, Keaton’s physical comedy was a major influence on later comedians like Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville.

Timeless Humor: While many of Keaton’s films were made nearly a century ago, their humor and wit still resonate with modern audiences.

Keaton’s films often rely on universal themes and timeless gags, making them just as funny and engaging today as they were when they were first released.

Historical Significance: Buster Keaton is considered one of the greatest filmmakers of the silent era, and his films represent an important chapter in the history of cinema.

Watching Keaton’s films can give viewers a deeper understanding of early Hollywood and the development of film as an art form.

Additionally, Keaton’s influence on comedy and cinema continues to be felt today, making his films a must-see for anyone interested in film history and culture.

Best Buster Keaton Films – Wrapping Up

Buster Keaton was a master of physical comedy and an innovative filmmaker whose work has stood the test of time. His films continue to be celebrated for their clever gags, impressive stunts, and inventive visual storytelling, and they remain popular with audiences of all ages.

Some of Keaton’s most popular and acclaimed films include “The General,” “Steamboat Bill, Jr.,” “Sherlock Jr.,” and “Our Hospitality.” These films are widely regarded as classics of the silent era and are essential viewing for anyone interested in the history of cinema.

Other notable Keaton films include “The Navigator,” “Seven Chances,” “College,” “Go West,” and “The Cameraman.”

These films showcase Keaton’s unique talents as a physical comedian and filmmaker, and they are beloved by audiences for their humor, wit, and creativity.

In addition to his work in film, Keaton also made significant contributions to the development of visual effects and camera techniques.

His use of multiple exposures, stop-motion animation, and other techniques helped to push the boundaries of what was possible in early cinema.

Overall, Buster Keaton remains a legendary figure in the world of film, and his work continues to inspire and entertain audiences nearly a century after its creation.

Whether you’re a die-hard Keaton fan or a newcomer to his work, there’s no better time to discover the magic of his films and the enduring legacy of his artistry.