Ben Oliver

Banner image for Steamboat Bill Jr.

Steamboat Bill Jr.

I know what it is, you’re ashamed of my baking.
04 April 2020

The estranged oddball son of a riverboat captain comes home to see his father and work on the boat.

This is one where the front of a house falls on top of Buster Keaton, and he is stood just where the attic window lands so it falls around him. A few inches either side and he be dead. It’s breathtaking and incredibly reckless, to the point where questions were raised about his sanity.

Steamboat Bill mutates from a slapstick series of pratfalls to a balls-to-the-wall acrobatic masterpiece. It’s inventive, expensive and impressive. Sure, Keaton’s life was falling apart and it didn’t make any money, but the price he paid for his art is a gift to us all 90 years on.