Keaton eventually has a studio named after him, although MGM bigwig Irving Thalberg (Elliott LeFaiver) keeps him reined in. When directing, Keaton is as hard on the budget as he is on himself when doing stunts, we learn, insisting on blowing up a trestle bridge, although that cost $42,000, and setting a forest fire that takes 600 men to extinguish.

In this cast of 15, the acting ability is uneven, but some performances are quite good. Besides Dufault’s nuanced Keaton, there is Higgins creating a sympathetic Fatty Arbuckle, whose attempt to help a young woman results in his trial for rape and manslaughter. As an incidental character, studio executive Lawrence Weingarten, Ryan Hanley is amusingly obsequious.

Considering how much of the man’s life is described rather than shown, Buster Keaton: Fade to Black succeeds nonetheless in painting a clear picture of the great comedian.

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