Buster Keaton in “The Navigator”

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Today is the anniversary of the release date of Buster Keaton’s 1924 classic The Navigator. 

This film is often ranked with The Gold Rush, City Lights and Keaton’s own The General as one of the greatest of silent comedies. Having heard that the S.S. Buford was slated to be scrapped, Keaton and his production team resolved to build a film around it. Keaton plays a callow young rich boy who, along with his girlfriend (Kathryn McGuire) is stranded on a drifting ghost ship in the middle of the ocean.

Annex - Keaton, Buster (Navigator, The)_01

The film was Keaton’s biggest box office success and considered by many to be a cinematic masterpiece. As to the latter, it’s not hard to see what critics read into it. A ship at sea is a metaphor. To be alone on a ship at sea is an existential metaphor. For two useless rich people to be alone…

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