Steamboat Bill Jr.


Steamboat Bill Jr.

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Total Count: 27


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Movie Info

Not the best of Buster Keaton's silents, Steamboat Bill, Jr. nonetheless contains some of Keaton's best and most spectacular sight gags. Keaton plays Willie Canfield, the namby-pamby son of rough-and-tumble steamboat captain "Steamboat Bill" Canfield (Ernest Torrence). When he's not trying to make a man out of his boy, the captain is carrying on a feud with Tom Carter (Tom McGuire), the wealthy owner of a fancy new ferryboat. Carter has a pretty daughter, Mary King (Marion Byron), with whom Willie falls in love. The two younger folks try to patch up the feud, but this seems impossible once the captain is jailed for punching out Carter. Willie tries ineptly to bust his dad out of jail, only to wind up in the hospital while trying to escape the law. As Willie lies unconscious in bed, a huge cyclone hits town, knocking down tall buildings like kindling. Upon awakening, he does his best to remain standing as the winds buffet him about. He takes refuge in a tree, which is promptly uprooted and blown toward the waterfront. Here is where Willie proves his manhood -- and ends the feud between Steamboat Bill and Carter -- by rescuing practically everyone in the cast from a watery grave. Steamboat Bill, Jr. would be memorable if only for one eye-popping (and dangerously real) sight gag: as the cyclone rages, the facade of a three-story building collapses upon Keaton -- who is saved only because the upstairs window has been left open!


Buster Keaton
as Willie Canfield
Ernest Torrence
as "Steamboat Bill" Canfield
Tom McGuire
as John James King
Marion Byron
as Mary King
James T. Mack
as Minister
Joe Keaton
as Barber
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Critic Reviews for Steamboat Bill Jr.

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (27)

Audience Reviews for Steamboat Bill Jr.

  • Oct 22, 2018
    The son of a rundown riverboat captain returns to his dad after college, slick and citi-fied, a disappointment to his dad and the laughingstock of the town. Only the girl he knew in school thinks anything much of him, and she's the daughter of the town big-shot (Pop's nemesis) too. How to repair his reputation, get Pop's respect, the respect of Pop's enemy, and win the girl? And a big storm coming on? The storm proves the height of Keaton's talents as some of his most memorable sight gags happen during its rage, and Keaton enters film history with pride.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Nov 29, 2017
    Buster Keaton is his usual adorable, amazing, and funny self in this story of the son of a riverboat captain who tries to learn the ropes from his father while being attracted to the daughter of a rival captain. Keaton's character hasn't seen his father since he was a baby, and his scrawny build and beret are a disappointment to his father, played by Ernest Torrence. The movie is a teeny bit slow at the start, though there is a funny scene of his father trying to select a new hat for him. Stick with it. It builds to funny moments in the local jail (love that backwards rock toss), and then some fantastic scenes at the end, when a cyclone strikes, with Keaton displaying great physical comedy as well as bravery. In one of his most famous stunts, the side of building comes crashing down on him, only to miss him because he's standing in the spot the doorway lands. There are several other dazzling moments in an extended sequence that is the genius and crescendo to the film. The first half of the film is not as strong, and it would have been nice if the love interest (Marion Byron) had been expanded a little more, but this is still a very enjoyable, heartwarming movie, with some truly unique moments.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 25, 2014
    Keaton was an incomparable genius and this is made pretty evident in the film's exceptionally well-directed third act, when he tries everything to escape a storm and surprises us with his incredible audacity and endless disposition to put himself in life-threatening situations.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 14, 2013
    It is difficult for me to determine whether I like Keaton or Chaplin more as silent slapstick actors. I thought Keaton was brilliant here as an unlikely captain of a steamboat. The laughs continue to hold up today.
    John B Super Reviewer

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