Elsewhere, there’s mostly disappointment, especially in The Timid Young Man, in which comedy legend Mack Sennett directs and delivers a sloppy, dull film about Keaton’s escape from a domineering fiancée. Unfortunately, most of the films in the collection lean toward this level of quality rather than that of Grand Slam Opera, but as a historical document, it’s fantastic to have these films preserved and presented here in generally excellent shape.
The Blu-ray Discs
The 16 films are split up onto two discs, and each is given a 1080p, 1.33:1 transfer mastered from 35mm negatives, fine grain masters and some lesser archival sources. It’s pretty obvious when an inferior source is used, like in One Run Elmer where nearly half a reel descends into an occluded, fuzzy mess. But overall, the films look quite good, with strong levels of sharpness and clarity visible beneath ever-present scratches. Fine detail is often apparent in clothing and hair, and grayscale separation is stable and consistent.
The mono audio tracks are often afflicted with a good deal of hiss and crackle, but dialogue remains intelligible.
David Macleod contributes liner notes about each of the films, collected in an eight-page booklet. Disc one includes a stills gallery and disc two includes a montage of famous Keaton pratfalls and stunts.
The Bottom Line
No one ought to be introduced to Keaton’s work through this route, but it’s a necessary stop along the way for fans, and the excellent Blu-ray presentation makes the set well worth owning.