The Boat
Comedy, Family, Short
IMDB rating:
Buster Keaton, Edward F. Cline
Storyline: Buster's handmade boat, The Damfino, is finished and is, of course, too large to get through the basement door. When he drives off with it in tow, the side of his house, then the whole thing, collapses. At the harbor he rides the boat out only to have it sink beneath him. The rest is a series of adventures he and his family have with the restored boat.
Type DVD-rip
Resolution 448x336 px
File Size 260 Mb
Codec mpeg4
Bitrate 1347 Kbps
Format avi
Type Resolution File Size Codec Bitrate Format
DVD-rip 448x336 px 260 Mb mpeg4 1347 Kbps avi Download

Nice, but does not belong to Keaton's greatest
'The Boat' shows Buster Keaton as a boat builder, taking his wife and two children to the launch of his boat. As the four hit the ocean they learn there are quite some surprises to this boat. That things will not happen as planned is an understatement. Although there are quite some nice gags in this short film, it is only mildly funny.

The first half is so much more entertaining than the second, which seems a little boring. It uses more of the same gags and the new ones play too long. Keaton is able to show his physical a couple of time, using the entire boat as a prop, making this short a nice part in his oeuvre. On the other hand, he could have done without 'The Boat'.
One of Keaton's best shorts
While I love everything Keaton did, I particularly like his short comedies the best. They're packed full of gags and it's always an endless laugh riot from beginning to end. The Boat is one of my favorites, along with The Scarecrow and One Week. Keaton's brusque treatment of his children in this short speaks to my heart since I'm not very fond of children, either. The gag where he measures the temperature of the water before jumping in to save his kid from drowning is priceless and I never cease to laugh. This short is also an early example of Keaton's ability to take one prop and base a whole story around it, a la The General. Sybil Seeley is also excellent as his patient wife and her performances in Keaton's other shorts are equally delightful.
an odd little domestic comedy
This is a very good Buster Keaton silent comedy short from 1921. However, unlike most of his other films where he is either co-starring with another guy (such as Fatty Arbuckle) or going solo, in this case everything he does, he does with the family in tow.

Buster and his wife are building a boat in the garage. Unfortunately, it's much larger than the opening and so Buster is forced to cut the garage door opening larger. You discover it still isn't large enough as the boat rips the entire side of the house off and destroys most of the home. Now THAT'S a sight gag! Once out of the house, dopey Buster doesn't fare much better. He manages to lose his car off the end of the dock, and later once they've been at sea a while, the boat sinks but our family somehow survives.

The movie excels because it has a real plot--it's not just slapstick. Also, the stunts, when they are done, are BIG and very impressive!
A better short subject by a master
This is definitely one of Buster Keaton's better short films. The key is the simplicity of the premise...Keaton's character builds a houseboat...and the multitude of problems that it causes.

The jokes are simple but usually funny (even now in our more "enlightened times" and Keaton's slapstick acrobatics are, as usual, simply wonderful to watch. He uses that one basic, if large, prop...the great effect.

And the final line, while an old joke, is still funny.

Why Does Buster Keaton Always Find Himself in So Much Trouble? Damfino!
Buster Keaton just wants to take his family out on a pleasant boat trip to enjoy some sea breezes and sunshine. A simple enough request, no? Well if you've ever seen a Buster Keaton movie, you already know the answer to that question....

A pretty funny short that involves many of the pratfalls you would expect in a slapstick comedy about a doomed boating expedition -- people falling in the water (a lot), a dinner preparation gone all wrong when nothing is tied down, a storm and its predictable outcome on our beleaguered hero. A cute twist at the end reveals that our protagonist family was never in any danger to begin with.

The name of Keaton's boat is the Damfino, which provides a running joke and gives the film its final punchline.
Scientifically Impossible Out of Sight & In The Water
This film for a silent short has a lot of elaborate sight gags, more than you'd expect. There are a lot of foreshadowing scenes of how funny & elaborate Keatons films would become here.

The film has an opening sequence which reveals the boat interior set used in the film. An interesting way to open.

Keaton is the father with a wife & two young sons who is building a boat in his basement. When he finishes his project, he names it Dam fino & finds it will not fit out of the basement door. So he enlarges the basement door, & then hooks the boat up to the car & pulls it out- pulling the house down with it. Remember, in this era prior to special effects this pulling the house down is an elaborate gag. They are really pulling the house down.

Next- Buster & his family are trying to launch the Dam fino & have all kinds of trouble doing it. When it finally goes off the ramp, the boat & Buster promptly sink.

With no explanation, in the next sequence the boat is actually floating. Keaton & one of his sons do a routine involving the setting up the smokestack on the Dam fino & trying to find the kid inside the stack which is good physical comedy that is a prelude to what Keaton would do later, & would train Lucille Ball how to do.

Classic in this - the first use of "cruise control" with the boat going without a pilot while everyone is below. The below decks often seem much larger than the above decks.

The voyage the boat goes on has a lot of perils, many of which are amazing sight gags for this era. In the end, the Dam fino sinks & the family are all floating in a bath tub. Then, the tub starts to sink, but stops when it hits the bottom of shallow water.

The family walks up on shore together & one of them asks dad where they are. Without needing lip reading skills- Keaton mouths to the camera "Damn if I know". A clever ending for a movie full of impossible sight & physical gags.
This is not a bad short's just not a cinematic one. Not everything we see here can exclusively be expressed in the film medium.

On the other hand, there are some first rate sight gags. Buster is placed in this is as a 'builder', who destroys things far more often than he creates them. Hole in the side of the boat? Nail a pancake over it. Pancake falls off and springs a leak? Drill a hole in the floor for 'drainage'. Your boat capsizes over and over? Nail your shoes to the boards. Who sent the distress signal? "Dam f i no!"

The rotating boat gag is extremely influential; the 'zero gravity' scenes in "2001" can claim lineage from this. But the gags only work as isolated events; nothing really ties this all together, and therein lies the movie's weakness.
One of Keaton's finest

Many critics and scholars contend that Keaton was at his funniest and most brilliant in his silent comedy short films, and I happen to agree. While his feature films are certainly enjoyable, they don't pack in the laughs as thick and fast as his one- and two-reelers, and 'The Boat' is one of his two best, in my opinion (the other being 'One Week').

From beginning to end, the gags come in rapid-fire succession, from our first illusion of Buster in 'rough seas' to his final, silently-spoken pun, and what a series of gems they are. Any of the silent comedians could have built a boat too large to get out of their garage, and some of them would have come up with the idea to have it demolish the house when they try to pull it away. Only Buster, however, could play the tragedy with such a non-reaction. He walks stoically back to the wreckage, unearths the family bathtub to replace his boat's demolished lifeboat, walks back to his flivver and drives away, boat in tow.

If anything, the gags arrive TOO fast, in come cases (though that impression may only come from viewing a modern edit). Stan Laurel, genius of film editing that he was, timed the laughter of the audience at his previews, then went back and recut the film to lengthen certain shots so the laughs didn't overlap the next gag. Of course, this is less important in a Keaton silent than in a Laurel & Hardy talkie, but in my earliest viewings of this film, I actually missed some of the subtler gags because I was still reacting to the big knee-slapper which preceded it (for instance, after Buster has accidentally dumped one of his sons overboard, he throws the boy a life preserver, which sinks like a stone).

A key difference between this short and almost all of others is the presence of a leading lady who actually has a developed personality. Most of Buster's leading ladies were treated primarily as props and decorations, but Sybil Seely lets us know early on in the film that she's the long-suffering wife of a man who's a little absent from reality, and very little he does is going to surprise or upset her unduly.

This film contains what may be the single funniest and most iconic scene of the entire silent comedy genre: the launching. Once again, it's not just the gag itself, but Buster's reaction to it, that turns it from a funny sight gag into a hilarious, textured joke. As the boat is released and slides down the launching ramp, Buster standing firmly on the bow with his back to the camera, the ship proceeds to slide directly down under the water. Even as the water is slipping over his little ship, Buster determinedly stands rock-steady on the bow. The water passes over his shoes, and still he stands. The water reaches his waist, and he remains immobile. Only as the water reaches his chin does he suddenly seem to acknowledge the fact that his boat is sinking with him on it, and make an effort to escape.

If you've not been exposed to Keaton's masterpieces, this is a good film to start with. If you're already a fan, I suggest you use this film as the first Keaton film you show to your friends who are unfamiliar with him.
Buster on the Boat
"The Boat" is a black-and-white short movie from almost 95 years ago. The star here is Buster Keaton and he also wrote and directed it, together with his longtime collaborator Edward F. Cline. And the cast also has familiar names. Apart from Cline, who also acts in this one, the female lead is played by Sibyl Seely, who appeared in many other Keaton movies.

Well.. the action is very clear. Stoneface is on a boat this time and, of course, there is no other possible ending than Keaton shipwrecked and stranded on an island. If you know how basically everything that he touches in his films turns into chaos, you can only imagine what this would look like on a boat. One major difference to his other works is that there is no real antagonist in here, so Keaton is even more at the center of it all than usual. At 26 minutes, it's one of Keaton's longer short movies. He was only in his mid-20s when he made this and yet together with Chaplin and Lloyd the biggest star of his era. I like him, but I have to say I was not really entertained that well here. Most of the slapstick wasn't particularly funny. That's why I cannot recommend it.
Non-stop action as Buster battles the billows
This short speeds merrily on its way with hardly taking a breath. It's one of Buster's best. He and his wife and sons try valiantly to enjoy a boating expedition only to have a storm arise and cause complete chaos.

Some great moments: the emergence of the boat from his basement, destroying his house; the masts on pulleys engineered to drop when going under bridges (the same design used to put boat models in bottles); the tilt of the camera and boat as it illogically climbs a steep river; the great detail of mom's pancakes being tough enough to be used to stop a leak.

KINO's print is crisp and clear and there are blue tints for the exterior night scenes. An organ score accompanies the release.
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