Joseph Frank Keaton was born on October 4, 1895, to a pair of vaudeville performers. Spending his childhood on the road with his family, he earned the nickname Buster at the age of six months. By the age of three, the youngster was appearing as part of his parents act whenever they could evade child labor laws. In vaudeville, Keaton developed remarkable talents as an acrobatic comedian with a superb sense of timing, and became a rising star by his teens. In early 1917, Buster left his act with his parents, and appeared in a Broadway comic revue later that year, but the key to Keaton’s future came when he met a fellow vaudeville comedian. Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle was starring in a low-budget two-reel screen comedy, The Butcher Boy, and invited Keaton to play a small role in the picture. The two hit it off and became a successful onscreen team, starring in a long string of comic hits. Fascinated by the medium of film, Keaton soon began writing their pictures, and assisted in directing… read more
In one of his biggest box-office hits, The Great Stone Face works with the largest prop imaginable in the form of a deserted and drifting liner and he wrings every possible laugh out of it as he and his girl desperately try to keep it afloat and prevent their capture by marauding cannibals. The story isn't as strong or as sophisticated as some of his other films but it's inventive and certainly one of his funniest.
One of Buster Keaton's most popular and enduring films, THE NAVIGATOR finds a hapless Keaton cast off with his ladyfriend on a steamship where they are the only passengers. Hijinks and running from bloodthirsty cannibals ensues. When it comes to boats I prefer Keaton's STEAMBOAT BILL, JR., but THE NAVIGATOR remains a light and entertaining showcase of Keaton's slapstick prowess.