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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Buster's Maritime 327 Jun 2000
- Published on Amazon.com
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.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful transfer of a great film!23 Jan 2000
- Published on Amazon.com
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'.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
New Blu-ray adds More Picture to all sides, Color Tints & Image Stabilization!11 Sep 2012
Paul J. Mular
- Published on Amazon.com
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.
----BONUS MATERIAL NEW TO THIS RELEASE---- 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!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
How funny can one movie be?8 Jan 2003
- Published on Amazon.com
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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Boating With Buster2 Feb 2004
- Published on Amazon.com
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.)