Scen.: Carl Harbaugh, Bryan Foy. F.: Dev Jennings, Bert Haines. M.: Sherman Kell. Scgf.: Fred Gabourie. Int.: Buster Keaton (Ronald), Anne Cornwall (Mary), Flora Bramley (Mary’s friend), Florence Turner (Ronald’s mother), Harold Goodwin (Jeff, he rival), Snitz Edwards (Dean), Carl Harbaugh (the coach), Sam Crawford (the baseball coach). Prod.: Joseph M. Schenck. DCP. D.: 66’. Bn.
Here is Buster Keaton with his latest film, the wonderful College. Asepsis. Disinfection. Freed from tradition, our gaze revels in the juvenile, tempered world of Buster, the great specialist in fighting sentimental infections of all kinds. The film is as beautiful as a bathroom, as vital as a Hispano-Suiza. Buster never tries to make us cry, for he knows that cheap tears are outdated. He is not, however, a clown who makes us roar with laughter. Not for a minute do we stop smiling, not at him but at ourselves – smiling at health and Olympian force.
In cinema, we always contrast Keaton’s monotonous expression with the infinitesimal variations of a Jannings. Filmmakers overdo it with Jannings, multiplying his slightest facial contractions to the nth degree. For him, suffering is a prism cut into a hundred facets. […]
Buster Keaton’s expressions are as modest as, for example, a bottle’s; the dance floor of his pupils is round and clear, but there his aseptic spirit does pirouettes. The bottle and Buster’s face have infinite points of view.
Few are those who know how to accomplish their mission in the rhythmic, architectural workings of a film. It is the editing – film’s golden key – that combines, comments on, and unifies all these elements. Can greater cinematic virtue be reached?
Luis Buñuel, “Cahiers d’Art”, n. 10, 1927, in An Unspeakable Betrayal. Selected Writings of Luis Buñuel, University of California Press, Oakland 2000
Restored in 2018 by Cineteca di Bologna in collaboration with Cohen Film Collection at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory.
For the restoration of College, nine elements were carefully inspected and analysed. Five of them – from the Cohen Film Collection deposited in Columbus and at the CNC – were digitized and compared. Based on their photographic quality and completeness, two elements were selected for restoration: a third generation safety dupe positive and second generation safety dupe negative. Whereas the former served as main elements and included the original main and end titles as well as all intertitles, the latter was used to replace several sections of the dupe positive showing visible printed chemical decay.