Below, listed in chronological order, are books about and related to Buster Keaton that I have enjoyed over the years. Keaton "scholars" will tell you that several of these books have been discredited over the years. And I don't care. This list is by no means objective or comprehensive, simply mine. Caveat emptor. -- Webmaster Steve Bailey

Agee on Film: Criticism and Comment on the Movies, James Agee. Re-printing, Modern Library, 2000. A compilation of reviews and essays from Agee, one of the most respected critics of the 1940's and '50s (and screenwriter of The African Queen and Night of the Hunter). It was Agee's seminal essay on the silent-film years, "Comedy's Greatest Era," that was partially responsible for re-interest in Keaton's work in the 1950's.

Keaton, Rudi Blesh. MacMillan Publishing Co., 1966. Published shortly after Keaton's death, this benefits from Keaton's participatory interviews. Some of the book comes off as a little precious (Keaton's second wife, Mae Scriven, is referred to as "Susie," perhaps for legal reasons), and it often ignores some unfortunate facts (such as Keaton's inferior MGM movies being more financially successful than his independent features). Nevertheless, it offers much from the master's point of view.

The Silent Clowns, Walter Kerr. Alfred A. Knopf, 1975. Lavishly illustrated in coffee-table-book style, with very insightful commentary and studies of Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Harry Langdon, Laurel and Hardy, and many other, lesser-known silent-movie comedians.

Keaton: The Man Who Wouldn't Lie Down, Tom Dardis. Penguin Books, 1979. Another interesting Keaton bio, best known for its debunking of some of the myths that Keaton himself established and/or embellished in Rudi Blesh's book.

The Comic Mind: Comedy and the Movies, by Gerald Mast. The Bobbs-Merrill Company Inc., 1979. I usually turn up my nose at professorial analyses of comedy movies, but Mast has some insightful comments on the subject, from the earliest comedies up to Mel Brooks and Airplane! Only a portion of this excellent book is available for on-line reading; happily, that portion includes Mast's voluminous comments on Keaton and is well worth seeking out. (Click on the book's title, above, to go to the on-line link.)

Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase, Marion Meade. HarperCollins, 1995. Published in the centennial year of Keaton's birth, this book has been reviled for years by many Keaton buffs. It obviously has a bias towards showing the early Keaton as a downtrodden, abused child (none of which is true). Nevertheless, it has a few tidbits here and there to be found nowhere else and is worth at least a single reading. (Most of this book [minus, inexplicably, a few deleted portions] is available for free reading at Click on the book's title, above to go to the on-line link.)

Silent Echoes: Discovering Early Hollywood Through the Films of Buster Keaton, John Bengtson. Santa Monica Press, 2000. An astoundingly researched book in which the author sought out locations originally used in Keaton films and compares them via stills from the movies versus how those exact locations look today. An endless source of fascination for the contemporary Keaton viewer.

Buster Keaton Remembered, Eleanor Keaton and Jeffrey Vance. Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2001. A beautiful book in every sense, cataloguing Keaton's movie and TV career with concise reviews and a priceless collection of Keaton photographs, rare and otherwise. It was also a labor of love for Keaton's widow Eleanor, who contributed a touching text and worked on the book up until the day she died. One of the best-ever Keaton bios.

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