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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buster's Maritime 3
THE NAVIGATOR (1924): One of Buster's best features. A fast-paced fun collection of classic gags, Buster filmed on top of "The Buford", a ship that was actually used by the U.S. govt. to dump alleged Bolsheviks out of the USA and into Russia in 1919. The film begins with Buster proposing marriage to his gal, who turns him down. The two mistakenly wind up on...
Published on June 26, 2000 by Cheated

3.0 out of 5 stars Quiet can be a good thing..
We like to explore all kinds of classic films, and this was our fist Keaton movie, having watched Chaplin before, Buster is loveable too. This is not a film for content or story, just goofy gags and stunts. We are a little spoiled with modern film making, special effects and green screens, so this is a bit different for the average viewer, but I would recommend it as the...
Published 3 months ago by H. Turner

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buster's Maritime 3, June 26, 2000
Cheated (California USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Navigator (1924) (DVD)
THE NAVIGATOR (1924): One of Buster's best features. A fast-paced fun collection of classic gags, Buster filmed on top of "The Buford", a ship that was actually used by the U.S. govt. to dump alleged Bolsheviks out of the USA and into Russia in 1919. The film begins with Buster proposing marriage to his gal, who turns him down. The two mistakenly wind up on the ship, called The Navigator, which happens to be deserted and floundering at sea. They make do the best they can, and eventually must deal with cannibals on a tropical island. One of the funniest Buster gags I've ever seen is in this movie - while he's trying to go to sleep in his cabin, his gal throws a snarly-looking portrait of a swabo out of her cabin and it lands on a nail outside the porthole window of Buster's cabin. It swings from side-to-side, giving Buster the illusion that The Navigator is haunted. More haunted-ship gags follow (spook gags show up in other Buster films), which makes me wonder if Buster was influenced by something he saw not-of-this-world in the 1000 or more boarding houses and hotels he stayed in during those previous 20 years in vaudeville.
THE BOAT (1921): In this 2-reeler, Buster builds a boat, called The Damfino, in the basement of his home. Since the garage doors are only meant for something like a Model T, Buster idiotically collapses his house as he forces The Damfino through this small opening. No one in the family seems to be bothered that their home now looks as if it was hit by a tornado, as they proceed to drive off to launch The Damfino. "The Boat" was thought to be one of Buster's lost films. It miraculously got pieced together recently, and that is what you'll find on this DVD. There are some scenes that have a curious blue tint that alternate with b&w scenes, and a few scenes have chemical decomposition, but none of these shots lasts more than a few seconds. Watching "The Boat" sometimes gives me motion sickness because of the somersaulting camerawork in a scene near the end. If my head is not spinning from this, I'll move on to....
THE LOVE NEST (1923): Buster's had a spat with his gal, and writes her a letter that happens to end with "write me if you don't get this letter". He sets sail in a crippled boat that is stocked with junk like hard tack and zerolene. Evidence of the passage of time is shown by the fake beard painted on his face that makes him look like a half-minstrel. Desperately, he climbs aboard a boat called The Love Nest that ironically is run by a sinister captain who throws his crew overboard if they should make the slightest mistake. One of the funniest gags in this 2-reeler shows Buster standing in front of a navy target range, then grainy stock footage of active naval destroyers is shown, which blow him sky-high.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful transfer of a great film!, January 22, 2000
Nate Goyer (Sydney, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Navigator (1924) (DVD)
Many silent films have lived past their copyright expiration and are now in public domain. This allows any hack with enough will to put out old films on DVD and charge what the market will pay. Fortunately, Kino International has provided us some excellent transfers of the Buster Keaton film library to enjoy.
'The Navigator' is a film that uses a large ship as it main prop. Keaton plays the naive son of a wealthy family who wrongly gets on a ship that is about to be destroyed, He spends the rest of the movie barely dodging disaster after disaster while keeping his famous dead-pan facial expression. 'The Navigator' also includes some of the earliest underwater movie photography.
Included with this DVD are 2 extra 20 minute films: 'The Boat' and 'The Love Nest'. Both are excellent transfers and fun to watch. The DVD also has a theme, since all included movies have to do with sailing and the ocean.
The musical scores are excellent and compliment the movie very well.
If you are new to Buster Keaton's work, I would also recommend 'The General' and 'Sherlock Jr'.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Blu-ray adds More Picture to all sides, Color Tints & Image Stabilization!, September 11, 2012
This review is from: The Navigator: Ultimate Edition [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
This new transfer, using a 35mm negative from the Raymond Rohauer Collection, adds a few nice touches to the film. It runs almost a minute longer than the old DVD, but this may be only due to differences in film speed as I noticed nothing new.

MORE PICTURE has been added to all sides! The old DVD is heavily cropped! Look at the very first scene, on the Blu-ray: at the top you can see the wall above the windows (cropped off on the old DVD), and at the bottom there is a second white lined rug (cropped off of the old DVD). To the right you can see some empty seats behind the man sitting (the old DVD the frame ends at the back of the occupied chair). To the left you can see decor of an old radio (on the old DVD cuts off at the corner of the radio).
The old DVD is slightly "window-boxed" putting black bars on all 4 sides of the picture. This new Blu-ray is full frame (wide-screen TVs will have black bars on the sides to make a square picture). There are a few occasions during the first 10 minutes in which you can now see film sprocket holes on the right side. The MGM logo at the beginning now has visible film sprocket holes on the left side. Different film sources must have been used for the master negative and now with more visible picture on the Blu-ray these brief imperfections are now visible. But this is only during the first 10 minutes, and I appreciate seeing more of the original picture.

The old DVD does not mention what the film source is but I suspect it is an archival positive made from a 35mm negative. There are brief black scratch lines, these scratches are characteristic of positive print scratches. The new Blu-ray has no black lines and it states that it is mastered in Hi-Definition from a 35mm NEGATIVE, which puts it one generation closer to the original camera films.

COLOR TINTS have now been added to the previously B&W picture. The original color tinting log has been found and the tints have been re-created based on this information. Basically light Amber for most shots, Blue for the night scenes, and Green for the underwater scenes. This does add to the enjoyment of the movie, and it was intended to be seen this way.

IMAGE STABILIZATION has also been used to compensate for negative shrinkage, removing major image jitter. The original DVD titles seemed to jump while you were reading them. This is not say that the image is unnaturally rock steady, there is still some sway here & there.

As far as clarity, the increased 1080p definition removes the compression artifacting & blocking present in the old DVD. However the actual film sharpness seems to be pretty similar between Blu-ray and DVD. However, I did notice a problem in the old DVD during exterior shots of the floating boat, the lines of the boat disappear and reappear as if some DNR had been used! This does NOT happen on the new Blu-ray transfer. It is very annoying in the old DVD.

There is no "The End" on the new Blu-ray transfer, it just goes to the restoration credits, the old DVD had a plain white lettering "The End" over a black background, probably not original.

----The Movie Review----
The Navigator plays our more like Buster's old comedy shorts. What ever storyline there is gets thrown out after the first 10 minutes. The plot of two countries after the same boat is just the reason to get Buster and his girlfriend trapped on a runaway boat. The rest is pure Buster Keaton antics, told mostly without any dialogue cards. Some of the gags are re-hashed from Busters older short comedies, this may remove some of the freshness to this film, but they still bring a smile to the face of fans. If you have not seen the shorts before watching this, they will bring about laughs.

One complaint I might have about the film is that it may go on a little too long at 60 minutes. I don't want to go into spoilers by going into more detail about this. It is not a bad film, just maybe 5 minutes longer than it should be.

And at only 60 minutes long, customers may feel cheated for spending so much for such a short film.

THE MAKING OF THE NAVIGATOR and Keaton's Fascination With Boats as Sources of Comedy: a featurette by film historian Bruce Lawton. (8:50)
Audio recording of "Asleep In The Deep" by Wilfred Glenn (1931) (which was referenced in the movie). You can hear the actual song that was playing on the phonograph in the movie. Great addition!!!
Audio Commentary by silent film historians Robert Arkus and Yair Solan.
Photo Gallery.

The old DVD did not have these but did include two comedy shorts now found on the Buster Keaton Comedy Short Blu-ray collection Buster Keaton Short Films Collection: 1920-1923 (Three-Disc Ultimate Edition) [Blu-ray], THE BOAT and THE LOVE NEST. Since this film is so short, It would have been nice to have these presented again on the same disc to compare the boat humor. But that is just a small quibble, none of the other new Blu-ray releases include the shorts that were on the original DVDs.

The music track appears to be the same on both releases and Robert Israel gets credit. However the music has been re-mastered in DTS-HD 5.1 as well as 2.0 stereo. Even the 2.0 sounds crisper than the old compressed DVD audio.

I do not own the new re-mastered DVD version but I assume it is from the same new video master. However there may be compression issues.

Is this worth buying again for the upgrade? I like the new color tints and increased visible picture, so I say YES!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How funny can one movie be?, January 8, 2003
Scott Ross (Raleigh, NC United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Navigator (1924) (DVD)
No other movie I've ever seen - with the possible exceptoin of the first Richard Pryor concert film, which isn't quite the same thing - has ever made me laugh as much, or as hard, as this. That the gags are peerlessly set up and flawlessly executed is to be expected with Keaton, and he made better films than this ("The General" comes to mind, of course) but for sheer, painful belly-laughs, none of Buster's work, for me, comes close. A few moments of many: Buster's idiot girlfriend making coffee; their eerily hilarious meeting on the drifting boat, so perfectly timed and played it should a) serve as a model for all physical comedians and b) never be done again; and Keaton's underwater duel with a swordfish. Just don't watch it while you're eating, and keep a pillow by the couch for falling on.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Boating With Buster, February 1, 2004
Andrew McCaffrey (Satellite of Love, Maryland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Navigator (1924) (DVD)
The Navigator -- a luxury liner set adrift with no crew apart from Buster Keaton and his would-be fiancé. After eventually finding each other aboard the giant craft, they must work together to survive. Totally cut off from civilization their needs are the most basic: they must use all their wits to survive hunger, thirst, and ghosts. Falling under the "not so basic necessities" category, they must also repel an invasion from a group of unfortunately characterized islanders.
This film clocks in at just about an hour. And like many the Keaton films of this length, this is very much a collection of related set pieces, only loosely connected by plot. Fortunately, the sequences here are very funny. The breakfast scene is quite amusing, with the two trying to prepare food in a kitchen that is well stocked in some things, but lacking in other, necessary items (i.e. lots of cans, no can-opener in sight). Naturally, as with any Buster Keaton movie, confusions abound; the hapless pair mistakes fireworks for candles, and a photograph for a poltergeist.
As with most of Keaton's better films, several elements all come together to create something worthy. The slapstick comedy is present, of course. But the action sequences are epic and give the store a real feeling of adventure.
In addition to the main feature, included on this disc are two of Buster's short films that also deal with nautical adventures. First up is THE BOAT, in which Buster Keaton, devoted father and husband has a dream of building and captaining a sailing ship of his own. He ultimately realizes his goal, but the opening scene shows us the first of what will become many miscalculations; he's constructed a boat in a basement, and doesn't realize that he has no way of fitting it through the door. But sacrificing everything that he has, up to (and almost including) members of his family, he eventually finds himself, his loved ones, and, indeed, his homemade boat happily floating on the ocean surface. The little scenes and short gags that make up this film are really well done. The props they built are impressive; from the outside of the boat, to its interior which rotates on its horizontal axis a full 360 degrees, making the ceiling quickly become the floor (Keaton dealing with an barrel-rolling boat is simply hilarious).
THE LOVE NEST is another of those films where a standard Silent Movie Heavy throws little guys around like rag dolls. In this case, it's Joe Roberts as the gruff captain of a whaling ship who throws his minions overboard when they displease him in the slightest (he's not totally without heart; he throws wreaths to mark his underling's watery graves).
Even though all three of the films on this disc involve seafaring, there is no real repetition. No jokes are recycled. A lot of Buster's gags involved water in some way; he was constantly falling into it, or having it dumped on him, or dropping it on his adversaries. It just goes to show you how creative Keaton was when he can take what are essentially cheap laughs and turn them into something so ticklish. Give him one simple premise (himself on a boat), and he can spin off a hundred different jokes. This disc definitely shows Buster Keaton at his comic best.
(Some of these prints are showing their age, but since that age is about eighty, that is only to be expected. I hope I'm as well preserved when I'm that old.)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better Than The General, January 4, 2008
R. A Rubin (Eastern, PA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Navigator (1924) (DVD)
I must admit that I found the Navigator superior in yuks and charm to The General made by Keaton three years later. The General usually gets the accolades, but I disagree. There is wonderful romantic-comic chemistry between Kathryn McGuire and Buster as they share hardship stranded on the ship, The Navigator. He's a rich guy sans servants and she's the rich girl; sans daddy and servants. Together they learn how to cook and keep from drowning in the adventure of their lives. The story builds as they learn how to open cans of food, swim , and avoid a tropical village of cannibals while adrift all alone on an old freighter in the middle of the Pacific. A wonderful script really. No words are needed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maritime mayhem, January 2, 2001
Daniel H. Hawkins (Fort Worth, TX USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Navigator (1924) (DVD)
This DVD contains one feature and two short films, all with a oceangoing theme. "The Navigator" from 1924 was the oldest film on AFI's "100 Years, 100 Laughs" list of the 100 funniest movies. Keaton finds himself adrift on a large ocean liner with the woman he had hoped to marry as his only companion. There are several funny scenes including Keaton's reaction to drinking coffee made with seawater, mistaking fireworks for candles, Keaton's underwater duel with a swordfish, and a climax involving several dozen boxes of fireworks and a tribe of island cannibals.
"The Boat" and "The Love Nest" are the two short films, with "The Boat" being the better of the two. Keaton builds a boat called "Damfino" in his house then destroys the house trying to get the completed boat outside. When he and the family get into trouble during a storm, the boat's name is used in a very funny scene with a coast guard telegraph operator.
Overall, this is a wonderful DVD more than worthy of a four-star rating. I wish there had been a four and a half star rating since I reserve the five star ratings for true masterpieces (like Keaton's "The General").
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars (4.5 stars) "The Navigator" is a film full of vaudeville gags, hilarious action and it's highly recommended!, December 1, 2012
This review is from: The Navigator: Ultimate Edition [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
There are a few films that Buster Keaton calls his favorites and his 1924 film "The Navigator" was not only one of them, it was also his most successful film in the box office.

And once again, Buster Keaton shows the audience why he is one of the silent kings of comedy, from his wonderful physical comedy to vaudeville gags, there is no doubt that "The Navigator" was also an expensive film as he bought an actual vessel (the USAT Buford, a passenger liner that served in World War I) for the film.

While headlining the film, it was also feature actress Kathryn McGuire, best known as one of Mack Sennet's bathing suit and dancing beauties, having appeared in Keaton's "Sherlock Jr." that same year, her performance in "The Navigator" will be her most memorable role of her career.

Beloved by many silent film fans, especially Buster Keaton fans, prior to 1995, "The Navigator" was one of the most scarce Buster Keaton feature length film to find on video. But now it has become a fan favorite and now, "The Navigator" will now receive it's Blu-ray release courtesy of Kino Lorber in Sept. 2012.


"The Navigator" is presented in 1080p High Definition and was remastered in HD from a 35mm negative from the Raymond Rohauer Collection and was color-tinted according to the original specifications. As one can expect from a film that is nearly 90-years old, you're going to see some scratches. But it's a film that is not marred by nitrate damage, nor is it a film that is blurry or has excess flickering. The film is well-contrast and the color-tinting was also good in showing viewers that blue means night, green is underwater, etc.

In fact, "The Navigator" looks very good for a film for its age, not as pristine as "The General" but still, the film looks amazing in HD.


"The Navigator" is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo utilizing Robert Israel's well-known musical score. Having owned the original DVD, Israel's score sounds amazing in HD. While not a musically immersive soundtrack, the dynamic range is great and the music does feel as if it comes alive hearing it via lossless. Crystal clear music, I was impressed by how great the music sounds on Blu-ray.


"The Navigator" comes with the following special features:

Audio Commentary - Featuring audio comemntary by silent film historians Robert Arkus and Yair Solan.
Featurette - (8:50) A featurette narrated by Bruce Lawton titled "Of Buster, Boats, Other Seacraft and Working on the Navigator". The featurette goes into Keaton's physical comedy and details on the underwater scenes.
Asleep in the Deep - (3:15) The actual recording of the 78rpm disc of Wilfred Glenn's song "Asleep in the Deep".
Gallery - Featuring a gallery of 16 images from "The Navigator" courtesy of Robert Arkin.


"The Navigator" comes with a slipcase.


"The Navigator" is a film that definitely shows the audience why Buster Keaton is one of the three kings of silent comedy.

The film not only offers wonderful physical and risky comedy that Keaton is best known for, the amount of gags and having an actress such as Kathryn McGuire, also willing to take part in the physical comedy leads to the film's efficacy.

Although only 60 minutes long, to describe this film and say that it features a man and woman stranded on a ship in the middle of nowhere and features the duo overcoming what they think is a haunted ship, not knowing how to prepare their own meals, facing cannibals and Keaton taking on a swordfish and octopus may read as if this film is kitsch but the way its presented is hilarious, fun and a film that features a string of vaudeville gags, and Keaton's understanding of how comedy works, makes this film so enjoyable and entertaining, but most importantly, accessible to young and old.

The chemistry between Buster Keaton and Kathryn McGuire is fantastic! They both need each other as if one is near harm, the other is their to save them. Both are privileged, wealthy young adults who probably have never cooked a meal, have never had to do any form of manual labor until they get stuck on the ship and it's just fun to see how these two gradually get to understand their surroundings.

The battle against the cannibals is one of the most hilarious but also exciting moments I have seen Buster Keaton in. Yes, he was amazing in "Steamboat Bill, Jr." and "The General" and has risked his life in many films, but for "The Navigator", to see the characters of Rollo and Betsy taking on dozens of cannibals was so fun to watch because of the number of people involved.

I watched this film with my 9-year-old and he was laughing hard along with me while watching this film. And I know I am not alone. Many times I have heard from silent film fans how they have introduced their children or spouses to a Keaton film and "The Navigator" was a film that they used to cajole a friend or family member into enjoying silent film, especially Buster Keaton films.

While "The Navigator" was one of Keaton's favorite films, it is important to note that the film was supposed to have an unhappy ending (as mentioned in Rudi Blesh's 1974 biography "Keaton"), but Keaton knowing that his comedy films should not have any of the main characters dying, his films are primarily positive and upbeat with the happy ending. Personally, I don't know if I can even imagine a tragic ending for "The Navigator" as it would have possibly ruined the film for me.

As for the Blu-ray release, "The Navigator" looks very good on Blu-ray. While one should not expect pristine-quality such as "The General", while the film does have its fair share of scratches and dust (note: A lot of films on nitrate were "rescued" and transferred to another negative with scratches and dust intact to preserve the film, not knowing in the future that people would care for clean prints), but the film looks very good on Blu-ray. And the same can be said for its lossless soundtrack featuring Robert Israel's score, crystal clear...I was impressed by how beautiful the music sounds in HD (considering I own the previous Kino DVD release).

As for special features, I'm glad that an audio commentary was included. Both film historians, Robert Arkus and Yair Solan are very knowledgeable about Keaton and the talent featured in the film. Also, for Kino to find the recording of Wilfred Glenn's "Asleep in the Deep" was a nice touch. As well as Bruce Lawton's featurette, on more behind-the-scenes information on the making of the underwater scene. And you also get over a dozen stills via the gallery

Overall, "The Navigator" is a film that I have waited to come out on Blu-ray. Not only is this a fantastic film to introduce people to silent comedy but it's a entertaining, upbeat and fun Buster Keaton film that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. I loved the film! My nine-year-old loved it! "The Navigator" is a film full of vaudeville gags, hilarious action and it's also a film that shows us why Buster Keaton is definitely one of the kings of silent comedy.

"The Navigator" is highly recommended!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keaton Aquatic Genius, February 9, 2012
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This review is from: Navigator (1924) (DVD)
Keaton plays a hapless rich toff who finds himself on an almost-deserted ocean liner, almost deserted because the girl he loves who has just said no to his marriage proposal is also, coincidentally marooned on board. (If you can be marooned on a boat.) Fantastic Keaton moments, as ever. A film to be watched and watched again, and then given to your kids, grandkids and everybody. The two bonus films that I hadn't seen before are also boat themed and also brilliant. Buy with confidence, and enjoy for a lifetime.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keaton's Biggest Commercial Success, April 18, 2013
The Navigator (1924) was Buster Keaton`s biggest commercial success and remains one of his most popular features. Co-directed by Donald Crisp, it is a bona fide classic.

Affluent society heir Rollo (Keaton) wakes up one morning, sees a newlywed couple outside of his window, and, bored to tears, decides he wants to get married. Love, of course, never enters the picture. He starts planning a regal honeymoon and eventually remembers that he needs to ask the bride-to-be, another socialite named Betsy (Kathryn McGuire, Keaton's leading lady from Sherlock Jr.).

The super rich were a favorite target for 1920s audiences, which certainly helped this film's box office appeal. (Yes, once upon a time, the one percent were not adulated by Hollywood. Rather, they were ridiculed because that ancient, naive generation actually believed that people were not defined by dyed green paper or quantity of possessions).

Betsy turns down Rollo's proposal of marriage and, after a series of circumstances, they find themselves aboard the adrift schooner, the Navigator. When they are left to fend for theirselves, without the aid of a servant, pandemonium is the result. Far from the idyllic honeymoon he imagined, Rollo is forced to assist in fixing breakfast. Much to his dismay, he discovers that a butcher knife is not the best way to open a can of food. Betsy learns how not to make coffee. Unground beans and seawater do not a good brew make.

An expressionistic play on shadows, via clever use of candles, reveals the consummating kiss Rollo and Betsy will never have. This is but one example we find of Keaton pushing the art of film in ways no other American filmmaker was doing at the time.

Co-director Donald Crisp makes an unbilled cameo, in the form of a sinister sea captain's picture inadvertently placed in front of a porthole, which predictably gives Rollo a bad case of late night jitters. (With the advent of sound, Crisp abandoned directing and became a much sought after character actor, appearing in such films as Mutiny on the Bounty, Jezebel, How Green Was My Valley, and National Velvet). Roman candles, soggy cards, a rainstorm, and sleeping arrangements round off a disastrous "wedding night."

The first night over, Betsy and Rollo have brilliantly overcome the menial chores, which of course makes way for larger-scale challenges to come. A master of the slow burn, Keaton, as usual, revels in the second half. Nothing less than cannibals craving white meat is their first obstacle. (Unfortunately, one area in which audiences of the time were indeed embarrassingly naive was in their racial stereotypes, and Keaton was not exempt from that).

In order to fix a leaky ship drifting towards the excited natives, Rollo and Betsy pull out the deep-sea divers manual. Down in the murky ocean below, Rollo meets a couple of swordfish and, in the film's most iconic highlight, he seizes one fish and engages in an underwater fencing duel with the second fish.

The showdown with the cannibals is worthy of a Loony Tune, and a grand finale gag is amongst the best of silent cinema. Aside from the stereotypes, The Navigator is remarkably contemporary. McGuire is a near-perfect and sweet foil for Keaton, breathlessly matching him. In one of their best scenes together, she straddles him (in his diving gear), using him as a lifeboat, and paddles them back to the temporary safety of the ship.

The Navigator was among a generous crop of 2012 Kino Keaton Blu-ray releases. It is also available in Kino's indispensable "The Art of Buster Keaton" DVD box set.

* my review originally appeared at 366 weird movies.
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The Navigator: Ultimate Edition [Blu-ray]
The Navigator: Ultimate Edition [Blu-ray] by Donald Crisp (Blu-ray - 2012)
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