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The Navigator Reviews

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hunterjt13
hunterjt13

Super Reviewer

November 10, 2012
A millionaire and his love interest get stranded on an ocean liner.
There are some chuckles in this slapstick, silent comedy, and Buster Keaton once again proves himself a master of the young medium. Though there aren't many moments like the amazing stunts of College and The General, Keaton prat falls his way through the shifting ship and an underwater sequence.
The film didn't show its antiquity until the "cannibals" appear. Black natives attack Keaton's character, and I was again found myself wishing that Keaton's films were more progressive than their times, just as I did with The General. The portrayal of black characters leaves much to be desired, and it ruined the film for me.
Overall, this isn't as well made as Keaton's other films, and the outdated views of minorities made the film more difficult to enjoy.
AJ V

Super Reviewer

September 3, 2010
Keaton and a girl are trapped on a ship together and try to find a way back to land, most of this movie is really hilarious, but there are some slow parts.
rubystevens
rubystevens

Super Reviewer

October 9, 2008
completely charming. i never was a big fan of slapstick but buster won me over :D
Daniel D

Super Reviewer

June 27, 2012
I think Buster Keaton is one of the more inconsistent actors from the silent film era. I really didn't like The general but I adored Sherlock Jr. This one I would say is ok. Buster and the woman who rejected to marry him accidentally both end up on a ship at sea alone. In this journey they encounter a storm, cannibals, and a scary painting of sailer. Now there were some nice laughs in here but at the same time for a film only an hour long I shouldn't have been bored as much as I did.
cody f

Super Reviewer

April 27, 2009
Really entertaing silent film from Buster Keaton. It's about two rich people set adrift in the middle of the ocean on a old steam ship. Keaton and McGuire are great together as they try to adapt to sea life without any help from maids and butlers. Many funny gags that still work today and it is beautifully shot. One of Keaton's best.
DrLappos
DrLappos

Super Reviewer

September 11, 2008
Loved Buster Keaton as a kid and havent seen any for years but they were laugh out load after so many years. His deadpan acting made the whole film cole alive.
jam233
February 10, 2010
This certainly ranks among Buster Keaton's best, that dead pan look of his is priceless and his physical form of comedy is ingenious. His comic timing is brilliant. He says more in his face than most actors today do with their face and voices. It's a very funny story with dozens of very memorable comic scenes. A true classic.
Connor G.
May 29, 2014
Not nearly as engaging or funny as The General.
filmlover1994
December 10, 2013
My Favorite Comedy Film Is 1933's Duck Soup.
June 16, 2012
Rollo Treadway (Buster Keaton) is a young millionaire who decides to find solace on an ocean cruise once his marriage proposal is turned down. An odd set of circumstances find him stranded on an abandoned ocean liner with the very same woman (Kathryn McGuire) that broke his heart. Lots of Keaton-styled gags ensue, culminating with a face-off against a fearsome horde of island cannibals. I'm willing to overlook the dated racism of The Navigator, but I can't get over the movie's numerous issues with slow pacing and awkward delivery. The Navigator, which lacks the snap of Keaton efforts from the same period, very much appears like a movie where the filmmakers were making things up as they went along.
June 13, 2012
I have seen 3 Keaton films, up to now, and this is good, but my third favorite. The stunts and comedy are definitely there, but it loses a little footing at the end. Keaton, stone faced and brilliant, is still a joy to watch.
gillianren
May 19, 2012
Sailing to the Wilds of Catalina Island

I refuse to get into the Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd debate. I think Charlie Chaplin's later movies, the ones after the advent of sound, are the best, but if you're just looking at silent comedies, and probably short subjects at that, which you like best is largely based on what you're looking for in a film comedian. And in fact, what I'm usually looking for in a comedian is wordplay, so I'd rather watch a Marx Brothers talkie than any of them. Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of Harold Lloyd, who I think was less skilled than his counterparts, but I can see the appeal to all three for those who are interested in that sort of thing. This is not one of those places where I think there is a definitive right and wrong, so it's not where I'll get on my film snob high horse. And really, I think we should all just agree that they're better than the Three Stooges or the Little Rascals and move on.

There is a setup to [i]The Navigator[/i], but I'm not entirely sure it matters. Just as it does not matter that Buster Keaton has a character name, but if you care, it's Rollo Treadway. He has decided that he wants to get married, so he orders two tickets to Hawaii and asks his girl, Betsy O'Brien (Kathryn McGuire), to marry him. He learns that he should have done that in the opposite order when she rejects him, leaving him with an extra ticket. In despair, he decides to go alone; he cannot face getting up early enough to get the the ship before it sails, so he goes down to the dock and spends the night before on the boat. Only it's the wrong boat. It is a steamer belonging, I think, to Betsy's father, John (Frederick Vroom, which is indeed a stage name; he added the "k" to the end of his name), and there are secret agents, and I didn't understand what happened, but somehow, Buster and Betsy end up adrift alone on the ship. How and why really doesn't matter.

The whole thing came about because the [i]USAT Buford[/i], best known as the ship which deported Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, among others, in 1919, was being scrapped and Buster Keaton was able to get his hands on it cheap. The thing was just one big prop, but it was a real ship that they were able to frolic about on. The very idea delighted him. So it's literally true that the setup doesn't matter and the whole point was that they were messing about on the ship. That's not, for once, an expression of irritation but one of literal fact. No one cared how they got on the boat so long as there was a story which got them on the boat, not even Buster himself. I suppose this proves that, sometimes, that actually does work to bring about a movie worth watching. In fact, if I thought about it, I could probably come up with another list of "because that's what needs to happen" stories which I enjoy. I won't do so now, but if pestered, that's a thing I could do another day.

Really, how sound a sleeper is Betsy, though? There are all sorts of gags which rely on her being essentially comatose while Buster does whimsical things around her or carries her while she's pretty much stiff as a board. He rescues her from a deck chair that's about to go over the side, for example, and though the chair is performing all sorts of ludicrous gyrations before he gets her out of it, it's not until he has his arms around her that she wakes up, so she can then slap him. There's a bit of to-do about how the ship is supposedly haunted. Much of the movie is not, in other words, story so much as it is a series of gags strung together by the fact that they all take place on a boat. This includes a duel with the most obviously stuffed fish ever to appear in film--this filmed at Lake Tahoe--where Buster is holding one swordfish while battling off another one in a fencing sequence. You can see the wires holding the fish up so the duel can take place, but the scene is still kind of impressive given 1924.

Yes, there are jokes at Betsy's expense, but there are jokes at Buster's, too. The whole joke is that these two are too hopelessly sheltered to understand how things work. Their first morning on the ship, they're lucky not to die from the breakfast they've prepared for themselves. (Though I will say they should die later and more slowly, because there doesn't appear to be any water on the ship at first, and the water they later have is magic.) She puts a handful of coffee beans--unground--into an enormous pot which he fills with seawater. He boils eggs in an even bigger pot and should burn himself horribly by the way he handles everything. They are complete innocents, and it's supposed to be charming. I'm also quite sure that they don't intend anything untoward when she uses him as a boat late in the picture, though the imagery is a bit more adult than most of the rest of what's going on. Even on an innocent level, though, it was still pretty funny.
February 15, 2012
VERY GOOD KEATON COMEDY
John Serrano
February 11, 2012
It's Buster Keaton at his apparent best (I'm not too sure since I've only seen three of his movies) It's funny, exciting, enjoyable, and overall, just a good time. It won't change your life or anything like that, it's just good ol' fashioned masterful silent comedy filmmaking. And Buster is his usual hilariously awesome self, performing unbelievable stunts, and making you laugh with his trademark unique physical body language. If you liked his other films, you'll like this.
January 16, 2012
There is a fierce and constant debate amongst cinephiles as to who was the greater comedic silent film artist: Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton. Those on the Chaplin side may cite Gold Rush, Variety Lights, or Modern Times as his greatest achievement. And Similarly on the Keaton end of the spectrum there are those who say that Young Sherlock, Steamboat Bill Jr., and most definitely The General are just as good, if not better than anything Chaplin ever did. While I do not wish to make light those who take such matters seriously, I would say that the debate at hand is concerning apples and oranges. As far as who is the funnier, that is up to the viewer to decide on their own. But when the subject comes to who is the greater artist, there is without exception one true champion here -- Charlie Chaplin.

I know that this must all sound rather confusing, as I am giving a very positive review to one of Keaton directorial efforts (sharing the credit with Donald Crisp). The point that I wish to make, however is one which Mr. Keaton would have most likely made himself, having been granted the opportunity during his lifetime. He was never out there trying to make works of art (although one might say that he did achieve something of the sort), he was just trying to make good, entertaining pictures which people would like to see. And in that respect, he was in every way Chaplin's equal.

In the 1924 feature, The Navigator, we are once again introduced to the Keaton persona on screen. Shy and somewhat reclusive. Not lacking in intelligence, but somewhat aloof from modern society, therefore incredibly socially inept. He plays a wealthy, pampered young heir to his family fortune who discovers one day that he is lonely and wishes to wed. He makes this rather bold and straightforward statement to his butler as if he was expecting a young lady to be brought to him on a silver platter. This, however, is not due to some impertinent air about him, but due, rather, to the hermetically sealed life he has lived thus far. We can deduce from his blunt actions that, although having known other girls before, he has most likely never interacted with them on anything deeper than a mildly social level. This is once again made clear as he makes arrangements for his marriage ceremony which, according to Keaton, he would like to have within the day, with the following days dedicated to the Hawaiian honeymoon. "But first," the title card reads, "I must propose to the girl."

There is another short and comical scene which takes place directly after his intentions are made clear to his butler (who, like a good servant, does what he is asked without any hesitation). Keaton walks out the doors of his mansion (one of the very few times in his life he's preformed such a feat, I would suspect) and precedes to his chauffeured car which drives him in a large U-turn across the street, where he promptly exits the car and walks up to the door of another large house. Again, within this short moment within the film, we are privy to these small character moments which helps us to develop a further understanding of where this person is coming from. It would be easy to assume the he is simply spoiled from a life of luxury. However, his simplistic nature and harmless demeanor negates the very thought of any malignancy in this adolescent behavior. This is once again reinforced by his proposal of marriage to the lovely, young Kathryn McGuire, who bluntly turns him down. With the innocence of his hopes crushed under the weight of this rejection, he lowers his head and marches back, defeated to the waiting car and driver, to which he says, "I feel like taking a long walk." This long walk consists of the ten or twelve steps it takes to move him from one side of the street to the next, back to his home.

Keaton was known for his incredibly muted expressions, having since been given the nickname, "the great stone-face." This is not to say that he does not emote. In fact, he does just as wonderful a job expressing himself and getting laughs through these expressions as Chaplin with his over-expression, you might say. To simply look at Keaton's mug can produce uproarious laughter from an audience. In one scene in the film, Keaton and McGuire are stuck on a large steam engine which had been set adrift into the ocean. While they are attempting to sleep the night away on bunks in separate rooms, McGuire is kept awake by the ominous gaze of a portrait of a man (possibly the captain), set against a black background. Unable to fall asleep because of it, she goes topside and tosses the picture overboard where it gets caught on the exterior of the ship and swings in front of an open window -- Keaton's window. We CUT TO Keaton's room where he is having just as much trouble sleeping as his female companion. Suddenly, that ominous face appears in Keaton's window, swings back and forth, in and out of the frame of the porthole, as some kind of specter of the sea. Keaton sees it. Instead of an overblown expression with his mouth agape and his hair being pulled out by the roots, his eyes simply flare. Nothing else on his face ever changes. He looks again to make sure he was correct in seeing what he thought he saw. He was correct. He hides under the blankets like a little child, but is soon running like a chicken with its head cut off through the corridors of the ship, covered by the white bed sheet, scaring McGuire into thinking she's seen a ghost as well.

One might argue that all of Keaton's movies are the same: a shy young man tries to win over the woman of his dreams to no immediate avail. He than must prove himself and his capabilities to show that he is indeed a good fit for her; or so that her father will approve, or something to that degree. And to that I say, so what. Keaton's desire is not to enlighten our minds with his films. He simply wants to entertain, and he will do almost anything to make sure that happens, even at his own physical risk. Let's see Chaplin stand in front of a falling building facade only to escape eminent death by being strategically placed in the open hollow of a window frame. I don't think so.
vic40186
October 2, 2011
One of the best american comedies ever, this is an ageless film because it's still really hilarious, crazy and the story looks current. Fantastic from the beginning to the end.
Brokenhead
April 22, 2010
Buster Keaton's work always amazes me. From the physical comedy to the ambitious camerawork, all wrapped around some polished gags, it is hard to find anyone who did it better from this era.
[b]The Navigator [/b]is one of his shorter films, but it takes on a host of amazing challenges for the period (1921-24). The underwater scene is hilarious, and must have been an amazing challenge.
There is a lot more than comedy going on in his films, and while I appreciate all the details, it is the simplicity that amazes me the most.
filmistruth
April 22, 2010
***.5/****

Pro: The story and action are all great. Humor is there. Keaton is a silent film god.

Con: Not as many great stunts in this film as compared to his other material. The ending is weak.
Virus
April 22, 2010
This DVD also included a couple of shorts in which had The Boat (20min) which is the best film I have seen from Keaton. Anyways Navigator was fun little film that isn't all that ambitious. It's farely forgettable and not something I would go out and buy.
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