Josh Jones in Open Culture:
In 1987, Video magazine published a story titled “Where’s Buster?” lamenting the lack of Buster Keaton films available on videotape, “despite renewed interest” in a legend who was “about to regain his rightful place next to Chaplin in silent comedy’s pantheon.” How things have changed for Keaton fans and admirers. Not only are most of the stone-faced comic genius’ films available online, but he has maybe eclipsed Chaplin as the most popularly revered silent film star of the 1920s.
Keaton has always been held in the highest esteem by his fellow artists. He was dubbed “the greatest of all the clowns in the history of the cinema” by Orson Welles, and served as a significant inspiration for Samuel Beckett. (He was the playwright’s first choice to play Waiting for Godot’s Lucky, though he was too perplexed by the script to take the role). In Peter Bogdanovich’s new documentary, The Great Buster: A Celebration, Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner discuss his foundational influence on their comedy, and Werner Herzog calls him “the essence of movies.”