Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928) - Rotten Tomatoes

Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928)

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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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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!

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Cast

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

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (1)

If your faith in humanity needs a little pick-me-up, there's no better place to start.

September 17, 2015 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Buster Keaton's final independent film is one of his finest achievements, something of a greatest hits package in its refinement of old routines.

October 31, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
Total Film

Steamboat Bill, Jr. packs in more stunts in 70 minutes than most action franchises have in total, and does so with panache.

September 22, 2015 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…
Eye for Film

Buster Keaton's silent comedy Steamboat Bill, Jr. displays more inspired energy and inventiveness than pretty much everything else currently in cinemas combined.

September 18, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
Times (UK)

Keaton has lost none of his ability to entertain and astonish.

September 17, 2015 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
Little White Lies

The ensuing farce involves miraculous physical comedy and stunt-work. Keaton makes it look easy.

September 17, 2015 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Steamboat Bill Jr.

½

Buster Keaton is a master of two distinct features of the silent movie era: comedy via physical trauma and injury, and he is the master of stunts. The stunts you see in Buster Keaton films are all real, and were all executed by Keaton himself. You will be in awe throughout this film as you watch Keaton get pummeled, pulled through the streets, and hit with the framework of an entire house, all while keeping a completely stone face. The framework of the film isn't actually all that important, as his past films also demonstrate. The film starts with his father asking him home to help beat out his competitor in a steam liner business. While this shapes the film there are also plots that follow his father to jail, and then Bill Jr. as he saves his love interest from a tornado's vicious wind. The comedy of Keaton's work is still as timeless and humorous as it was in the twenties, and I highly recommend this film for silent film fanatics and comedy lovers alike.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

½

Keaton was an incomparable genius and this is made pretty evident in the exceptionally well directed third act in which 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 Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Another great movie from Keaton. This one has some really exciting and funny sight gags. Keaton fans can't miss out on this movie.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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