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The Navigator

   

The Navigator, starring Buster Keaton and Kathryn McGuire

 The Navigator is one of Buster Keaton’s best films, and it’s easy to see why.  In The Navigator, Buster Keaton plays the part of Rollo Treadway. He’s a young man who is rich, but without purpose in his life.  He decides to propose to his girlfriend, who rejects his proposal.  Heartbroken, he decides to go on a cruise to help him forget about his trouble.  At the same time, his girlfriend and her father are involved in a problem on a large ship that he owns.  This results in the girlfriend and Buster both being on board the ship as it is set adrift.

The not-quite lovebirds now have to figure out how to survive on this enormous boat.  The boat that neither of them has the slightest clue how to operate.  The boat is, in effect, a giant comedy prop for Buster Keaton to play with.  It is hilariously funny to watch them wandering across the boat, initially each not realizing that the other’s on board.  Later they have trouble with food, since they have no clue how to do the basics of cooking.  Since they have no butler nor chef on board.

There’s troubles to be dealt with, including floating too close to an island of ‘cannibals’ …. And the need to repair the boat with Buster in a deep sea diving suit.  This leads to quite a bit of comic play, as well as Buster dueling with a swordfish under the sea.  It’s a very funny movie, which my children and I laughed out loud at as we were watching.  And I hope that you do too!

Quotes from The Navigator

[title card]: Rollo Treadway – Heir to the Treadway fortune – a living proof that every family tree must have its sap… Buster Keaton.


[title card]: He had completed all arrangements – except to notify the girl.


[Rollo shakes Betsy’s hand and presents her with a bouquet]
Rollo Treadway (Buster Keaton): Will you marry me?
Betsy O’Brien (Kathryn McGuire): Certainly not!


Trivia for The Navigator

  • Buster Keaton got the idea for The Navigator when he heard of a large passenger ship to be scrapped.  Seeing an opportunity, he purchased the ship and proceeded to build a story around this massive prop.
  • Buster Keaton meant to film the repair the ship in full diving gear in the local municipal swimming pool.  However, the pool was not deep enough. So they built higher retaining walls around the edges, to hold more water. Unfortunately, the weight of the additional water broke the bottom of the pool.  Buster Keaton had to pay for the repair. They moved the production to Lake Tahoe, where the water was very clear. But it was so cold that Keaton could only stay under for ten minutes at a time. The camera crew went down in a watertight box, with ice packed around the camera to keep the lens from fogging over.

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