Battling Butler ★★★★

Watched this because Cohen packaged it with Seven Chances; I had never heard a thing about it, but surprisingly (?), it’s quite delightful — one of the best-sustained plots of any of the Keaton features thanks to a genuinely engaging scenario involving his roughing-it rich boy being mixed up with a lightweight boxing champion as part of a semi-accidental deception of his girlfriend. The side characters are atypically well developed, especially Sally O’Neill as the love interest who enters by seeing straight through Keaton’s Thoreau charade. The various threads don’t wrap very nearly — after the hilarious opening scene that sets up Buster’s dad’s frustration with him, we hear nothing else about his wealthy family — but the ride is great fun, and as usual, a strong case is made for Keaton as underrated visual stylist. Some of those mountains scenes and chases are just gorgeous to look at even without the fairly reined-in comic stuntwork.

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