Steamboat Bill Jr.

Watch Steamboat Bill Jr.

"The Laugh Special of the Age. See It."
  • NR
  • 1928
  • 1 hr 11 min
  • 7.8  (16,126)

Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill Jr. is a silent comedy film from 1928 that follows the story of a young man who tries to impress his tough-as-nails father. Set in the Southern United States, the movie takes place in a small river town where William 'Steamboat Bill' Canfield (Ernest Torrence) runs a steamboat line. His son, William Canfield Jr., known as 'Bill Jr.' (Buster Keaton), has just graduated from college and returns home to assist his father. However, he's not the type of man his father had in mind to run the family business. The father and son duo have a strained relationship, particularly because the father is a tough disciplinarian who expects his son to be the same.

The story of Steamboat Bill Jr. takes a hilarious turn when Bill Jr. falls in love with Kitty King (Marion Byron), the daughter of Steamboat Bill's rival, J.J. King (Tom McGuire). King, who owns a modern steamboat that is much bigger and more advanced than Steamboat Bill's boat, is trying to put Steamboat Bill out of business. When Bill Jr. and Kitty first meet, they don't realize who each other's parents are, but once they do, they decide to keep their relationship a secret.

As the story progresses, Bill Jr. tries unsuccessfully to impress his father, who continues to see him as weak and useless. In one scene, Bill Jr. tries to fix a boat engine, but he doesn't realize that he has left it running, and it starts to chase him around the boat. In another scene, Bill Jr. tries to show off his strength by lifting weights, but he ends up getting stuck underneath them.

The comedy in Steamboat Bill Jr. primarily comes from Keaton's physical humor, which is as impressive as it is hilarious. Keaton's character is constantly getting into absurd situations, whether he's trying to impress his father or impress Kitty, and his attempts usually end in disaster. The film is famous for its elaborate sequence featuring a hurricane that hits the town, during which Keaton is subjected to various dangers, including being hit by a flying house.

The climactic scene of Steamboat Bill Jr. involves a showdown between Bill Jr. and his father's rival, J.J. King. King's modern steamboat ends up crashing into Steamboat Bill's boat during the hurricane, causing it to sink. Bill Jr. manages to rescue his father from the sinking boat, but his father is knocked unconscious during the rescue. King accuses Bill Jr. of causing the accident, but as he tries to take Bill Jr. to jail, the hurricane destroys the jail, allowing the pair to escape. The film ends with a heartwarming scene in which Bill Jr. saves his father's life and the two reconcile.

Steamboat Bill Jr. was Keaton's last independent film before he started working for MGM, and it showcases Keaton's signature deadpan humor and impressive stunts. The film is also notable for its use of special effects, particularly during the hurricane scene, which at the time was considered groundbreaking. Overall, Steamboat Bill Jr. is a funny, charming classic that is still entertaining nearly a century later.

Steamboat Bill Jr. is a 1928 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 11 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.8.

Steamboat Bill Jr.
Where to Watch Steamboat Bill Jr.
Steamboat Bill Jr. is available to watch free on Plex, Pluto TV, Tubi TV and Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime, Apple TV Channels, FuboTV, The Roku Channel, MGM+, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Steamboat Bill Jr. for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 11 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.8  (16,126)