Buster Keaton is a model student who proves himself for the first time in college athletic activities and competitions in order to win the hand of his beloved. COLLEGE is considered one of the best sports parodies in film history. In the breathtaking finale, Keaton, who never used stuntmen or camera tricks, displays all his athletic skills. In DUCK SOUP, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy – appearing here together before they officially worked as a duo – are vagrants who cause chaos in an abandoned villa. The new reconstruction by Lobster Films shows the complete version of the film for the first time.
This college picture starts out like the Lloyd classic, THE FRESHMAN, it goes along in this pattern for a while, then darts into serious footage for a stretch preceding the finale. When it gets into the last, an excellent example for technicians, it speeds like the well known arrow to the equally well known apple and after that’s all done away with (enough for any picture) there’s another of those Keaton close-offs that simply blasts those present. I am about to write of COLLEGE the pretty strong assertion that it is the best college picture I have ever seen. “COLLEGE is the best college picture I have ever seen.” Now I am about to think that over. (Business of thinking.) Now I have thought it over and I let it stand. Sorry I haven’t seen more than a couple dozen college pictures, or I could make the statement stronger. I’ll add the suggestion that other producers quit trying these things for a year or two, until the public can forget how good a picture COLLEGE is.
Exhibitors Herald, 22.10.1927
Buster Keaton goes collegiate in his new number and, as usual, gets away with “murder”. It is a lively piece – one crammed with Buster’s ideas of slapstick – and which serves in making capital burlesque of college life. We are glad to see Keaton in this kind of stuff because the campus offers a rich field for the exploitation of his well-stocked bag of tricks. The Buster doesn’t get into the class-room very much. The fun is directed more toward the athletic field. He makes a hit with the dean, and fails to “click” with the girl until he goes in for athletics. He is working his way through college by jerking sodas at the local drug store – and ruins the clothes of some of the cash customers. He goes in for baseball – and wrecks the team. On the track he is a dud as a hurdler and pole-vaulter. The number keeps moving from one gang to another – and the Keaton pantomime is always effective in encouraging the laughs, particularly when the episodes show signs of going resurrected from dead ones. The comedian has had funnier pieces – and sadder ones. This is one of the in-betweens. It will do for any screen, anywhere. The patron can’t misinterpret the star’s manner of putting his stuff over.
Laurence Reid, in: Motion Picture News, 23.9.1927