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Author Topic: The Boat (1921) - Buster Keaton  (Read 506 times)

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Offline Paul Pain

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The Boat (1921) - Buster Keaton
« on: July 15, 2017, 06:07:41 AM »
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  • http://www.busterkeaton.com/Films/B10_The_Boat.html
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ed/The_Boat_%281921%29.webm

    Watch THE BOAT in the link above.

    The short that is the reason Keaton fans are known as "Damfinos" is THE BOAT.  It's a pretty Damfino short, although it isn't as Damfino as the recent shorts.  But it's Damfino in its own right.

    This is Buster's only true domestic comedy, as he has both a Damfino wife AND two sons in this short.  And it all makes this short Damfino.  As such, enjoy this as you'll never see anything like it again in this journey.

    The opening of the short is Damfino, especially when Buster pulls the boat out of through the house, causing mayhem.  Sybil Seeley is clearly a long-suffering, yet devoted, and Damfino, wife.  And then Buster almost drowns a son or two and, in turn, drowns a Damfino car.  It's an unforgettable moment when Buster, aboard the launching Damfino, just stares ahead in his usual non-chalant and vacant "Damfino" glaze as the boat heads straight down.

    It's fun watching Buster test the water temp before diving after his son; can't save someone if it's too cold!  From here, it's just one Damfino fast-paced gag after another.  The storm, however, gets tiresome after a while, in a rare case where Keaton milks a Damfino gag too long.  And I can't understand why he doesn't turn off the boat when he goes below deck.  Such things keep this Damfino short from being REALLY Damfino.  Why?  Damfino

    I won't spoil it, but this short has many gags seen in Three Stooges shorts.  With so many, more Damfino shorts in the Keaton silents, this isn't one I'm likely to watch too often.

    8/10 [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke]

    P.S. Was this not a Damfino review?
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    Offline Umbrella Sam

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    Re: The Boat (1921) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #1 on: July 15, 2017, 12:47:35 PM »
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  • Humor-wise, I do think that this is one of the weaker shorts from Keaton, although it's still not totally devoid of humor. Surprisingly, they do take advantage of the damfino gag a few times in this short, notably when Keaton tries to give out the SOS signal and it even serves as the closing gag. We also get the funny gag of Keaton going down with his ship, but my favorite is Keaton checking the temperature of the water before jumping in.

    Instead, it feels like there was more of a focus on intensity, particularly with the second half. Keaton does pull this off very well with the storm sequence, and there still is a comedic touch to it with Keaton constantly getting doused by water along with a wonderful sequence of Keaton running on the walls. I do think this would have worked a bit better as the ending to one of Keaton's features, but I still think that it works pretty well here.

    Do I think that it is one of Keaton's best shorts? Damfino No, but I still do have to appreciate a lot of the ambition behind that storm sequence and I could totally see people really liking this one. I still think that it's good, but when compared to other wonderful entries in Keaton's silent film library, this one doesn't hold up as well.

    8 out of 10

    Offline Big Chief Apumtagribonitz

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    Re: The Boat (1921) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #2 on: July 17, 2017, 08:20:38 AM »
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  • This one's scarier than it is funny, with my usual disclaimer that we don't know how it played in a full movie theater rather than on a laptop screen.  Individual gags are good, classic in fact, i.e. pulling the house down to get the boat out and the boat sinking like lead off the launch after sinking the car.  The problem is his family, I think...they're too vulnerable and the danger is too real for these sequences to be funny.  I think I see the younger boy actually crying while they're bailing out the bathtub, though he does seem to recover quickly enough.  Buster might have been thinking that these boys could recreate the child Buster's act, but it ain't happening.  Houses falling, boats and cars sinking, Buster liked his gags BIG.

    Offline Bondelev

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    Re: The Boat (1921) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #3 on: July 18, 2017, 11:48:08 AM »
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  • Strange, THE BOAT has always been one of my favorite shorts. Not sure why you folks don't like it.

    At one point while making THE BOAT, Keaton had the idea to connect it to ONE WEEK (one of my other favorite shorts) and make it into a short feature. He decided against it when he realized he would have to shoot too much new material.

    Offline Paul Pain

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    Re: The Boat (1921) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #4 on: July 18, 2017, 05:58:13 PM »
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  • Strange, THE BOAT has always been one of my favorite shorts. Not sure why you folks don't like it.

    At one point while making THE BOAT, Keaton had the idea to connect it to ONE WEEK (one of my other favorite shorts) and make it into a short feature. He decided against it when he realized he would have to shoot too much new material.

    First, welcome to the forum; we're glad to have you here!

    I think the reason we aren't as high on this one is that it, for us, pales in comparison to the previous shorts.  For background, we've been reviewing a short every week going back to THE BUTCHER BOY, so we're just spoiled rotten by the past months.
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    Offline metaldams

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    Re: The Boat (1921) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #5 on: July 19, 2017, 08:40:18 PM »
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  • Gonna aim for a double Keaton review this weekend, been a crazy week.  Will be edited in this spot.

    Offline metaldams

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    Re: The Boat (1921) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #6 on: July 22, 2017, 12:03:47 PM »
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  •        I suppose the wife and children being in danger can be seen as a put off, no doubt they are, as well as Buster, but they manage to escape real harm every time, so having seen this short enough, it doesn't really bother me.

          No, I'm going to be one who considers this a classic.  Just tons of great mechanical Keaton gags and a pretty cool at sea atmosphere make this a short I've always loved.  The whole gag at the beginning of Keaton getting the boat out of his house, tearing down the whole foundation and leaving a wake of destruction is a sight gag I've always loved and one that I've always remembered well over the years, so it's made an impression.  Oh, and there's that great domino effect gag where Keaton forgets to mechanically bring down the poles on top of the ship before reaching the bridge, causing everything to fall in perfect symetrical harmony on Keaton's head, causing Keaton to fall perfectly into the sea.  The whole gag towards the end where the ship is spinning around in circles doesn't feel long to me at all.  In fact, it's an entertaining segment that gives one the feeling Keaton is in a washing machine.

          Love this short.  There are lesser Keaton shorts than this, and even the worst Keaton silent is probably worth an 8, so in my mind this is an impressive body of work we're dealing with.  Those lesser Keaton shorts will be in the weeks to come, but as for THE BOAT?  Mechanical Keaton destruction and genius.  Love it.

    10/10