Review: Our Hospitality Ultimate Edition Blu-ray

STUDIO: Kino Lorber | DIRECTOR: Buster Keaton and Jack Blystone | CAST: Buster Keaton, Natalie Talmadge, Joe Roberts, Joe Keaton
3/22/11 | PRICE: Blu-ray $34.95, DVD $29.95
original making-of documentary, 49-minute alternate cut, 1925 Keaton short The Iron Mule, galleries
NR | 75 min. | Comedy | 1.33:1 fullscreen | 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio/5.1 Surround or 2.0 stereo

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Our Hospitality movie scene

Buster Keaton puts on the ol' stone face in Our Hospitality.

Kino’s first DVD edition of Buster Keaton’s 1923 movie Our Hospitality was released nearly 12 years ago. Obviously, the good people at Kino didn’t want to hop onto the re-issue merry-go-round until the time was right for this title (just as they waited for their other re-issued Keaton entries, The General, Steamboat Bill Jr. and Sherlock Jr.). Well, the Kino carousel is in motion for Keaton’s first feature-length comedy, and it was well worth the wait.

The Blu-ray edition of Our Hospitality is simply gorgeous. The detail found in the image is so rich, it’s almost frightening. I’ve never been able to discern such depth in a 90-year-old silent films’ costumes, buildings, interiors and performers’ faces as I did in this one. And Keaton’s renowned deadpan expression comes off with more “rock-hardism” than ever. Oh, there are specks and nicks on the film, to be sure, but they’re far from distracting. If anything, they add a whiff of antiquity to this lovely piece — proof that it’s the real, genuine article.

Leading the bonus features on the Blu-ray are a previously unreleased 49-minute alternate cut of the film, thought to have been prepared by Keaton to test the movie’s non-comedic story elements, and a short documentary by silent film experts Patricia Eliot Tobias and David B. Pearson that discusses Keaton’s first plunge into full-length features.

There’s also a second musical score option (in addition to the main one composed by Carl Davis and performed by the Thames Silents Orchestra) by Donald Husberger that was first heard in Kino’s 1995 VHS release of the film.

All in all, a nice package.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.