According to Hollywood legend, it was Harry Houdini who gave Buster Keaton the name “Buster” after watching the young Keaton tumble down a flight of stairs. This myth is debunked in Marion Meade’s biography Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase (Da Capo Press), but the magic of the early film era is intact, and graciously presented. With the trained eye of a filmmaker, Meade leads us through the life story of one of cinema’s greatest performers. She presents vivid descriptions of Keaton’s haunts, from the unclaimed land of pioneer-era America, to the dingy vaudeville halls, to the staggering wealth of infant Hollywood. Meade not only condenses Keaton’s remarkable life into three hundred pages; she also infuses her work with the same near-mystical aura that surrounded the great stone face himself.