Set on the Mississippi River in the old sidewheeler days, Steamboat Bill Jr. follows the adventures of a spoiled young man who is forced by his crusty father to learn the ropes of river-boating. Soon, his attempts expand into disaster…
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"Shrimp" (lol) paces against the wind; "I know what it is: you are ashamed of my baking" haha - serve hard-boiled dads this type of effeminate flirt only when sturdy jail bars cork up their irate delirium; when in the end Jr. leaps up the ship tiers to get hold of the steering wheel, the steamboat's a four-story, floating pagoda and though not sunken by the storm, the catawampus flotsam lends it a "Bateau ivre" air.
Weakest link of Keaton 'till the hurricane sequence. Roger Ebert says about that: "Keaton is famous for a shot in "Steamboat Bill, Jr.," where he stands in front of a house during a cyclone, and a wall falls on top of him; he is saved because he happens to be exactly where the window is. ... He refused to rehearse the stunt because, he explained, he trusted his set-up, so why waste a wall?"
Buster Keaton's last great feature, about the hapless son of a steamboat captain who falls in love with the daughter of a wealthy boatman who is putting his father out of business, may not have quite had the sustained energy of his previous film (and his masterpiece), THE GENERAL, but the cyclone finale, with its crushing winds and tumbling buildings, is a staggering visual feat, even by today's standards.