So Bill Jr. comes back from college, with his own sense of style, a passion for music and a girlfriend, and his father, who he hasn't seen since he was a baby (!!??), beats it all out of him. Hysterical.
There's a whole class/masculinity thing going on here that coincides nicely with Michael Kimmel's theory about the history of manhood in America. Steamboat Sr. clearly has some anxiety about money and status, and projects that onto his son, who is unacceptable because he's smart and dresses differently and is nice to babies and doesn't beat people up. I'm reading the beret as a nod towards a degraded, European-style masculinity (interestingly, the same tactic was used against John Kerry, who also is associated with Boston). When Junior does punch the sheriff, it's more depressing than anything else.
Oh, and the film is also racist. Not a big surprise, but it bears mentioning. However, I wasn't engaged enough to be outraged while watching the movie. Mostly I was sort of bored. I don't think silent films are going to be a new passion of mine. I appreciate that some of these stunts were probably quite expensive and innovative for the time, but that doesn't mean I found them riveting.
There were some things I found funny--everyone wearing a white carnation (though some nice racism in that scene as well--hiLARious that Steamboat Sr. would have a black or Jewish son), and how Junior tries to mime to his father that there's a saw in the bread. Having not a lot of experience with silent films, I was also surprised at how few dialogue cards there were. Keaton, along with all the actors, has to do a lot with the body, and it's interesting to see where Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell, et. al. came from. The female lead was also a lot prettier than the Betty Boop-esque poster makes her out to be.
So what's the book's verdict? And what the hell kind of storm was that? You'd think the paper might have mentioned that a friggin' monsoon was coming through River Junction.