For Reel

The Navigator (1924)
April 17, 2011, 9:29 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , ,

Director(s): Donald Crisp & Buster Keaton

Following the significant technical achievements of one of his very best, Sherlock Jr., in The Navigator Buster Keaton once again stages a series of complex stunts, this time within a sea cruise and even on the ocean floor. Like many of his pictures, the film plays out like an extended masculinity test wherein the pampered Keaton, perennially out of his element, must prove his worth to marry the girl. At only an hour in length, the film is terrifically paced with a relentless onslaught of gags that never miss. Most memorable is an early sequence in which Keaton and Kathryne McGuire, after discovering that they’re at sea with only each other’s company, attempt to find each other aboard the liner. In a long shot, the soon-to-be lovers race across opposite sides of the decks, just missing each other at every turn. It’s a wonderful feat of choreography and timing that, rather than utilizing close-ups and reaction shots to achieve humor, allows the comedy to play wholly with the figures as mere specks on the massive canvas.