Like Welles, though in an earlier time and on a different
scale, Keaton was a master filmmaker whose creativity was leached out of him by small-minded
producers who at first recognized his genius, then proceeded to undermine him by jealously
forcing him to conform to a studio system dominated by businessmen uninterested in his art. It’s a
familiar story, common to any number of Hollywood’s great filmmakers from Erich von Stroheim
to Francis Ford Coppola. But Keaton’s story is particularly affecting because of the size and
versatility of his achievement, and how far he fell from his peak of success.
I wish I’d liked the book, though.