Colorized movie poster, "Joseph M. Schenck presents Buster Keaton in 'The Boat' written and directed by Buster Keaton and Eddie Cline - a First National Attraction, First National Pictures." Featuring Buster Keaton with his head through a porthole and Sybil Seely in sailor style blouse standing next to the boat.
In 1921, silent film star and comedian Buster Keaton released one of his best comedy shorts, The Boat.
Following the exploits of an unnamed amateur boatbuilder (played by Keaton) whose boat is too big for his house and ends up getting him and his family - a wife, played by Sybil Seely (uncredited), and two young boys (actors unknown) - into all kinds of trouble.
This is considered the third in a trilogy of shorts starring Keaton and Seely. The first, The Scarecrow (1920) follow's Keaton as a bumbling farm hand who is afraid of the farm dog who ends up marrying the farmer's daughter (played by Seely). The second, One Week (1920) follows the exploits of newlyweds Keaton and Seely as they attempt to build the DIY house they received as a wedding present. By the time of The Boat (1921), the pair have had two children - young boys who get into nearly as much trouble as their father.
The name of the doomed vessel is "Damfino," a play on the phrase "D--med if I know," which also gets a laugh in the movie. Keaton must have loved the pun, as he went on to use it several times throughout his career.
Although filmed and set in California, as we get into the high season for family boating and boatbuilding, we thought this was a fun one to share with our fellow Hudson Valley residents. We hope you enjoy watching with friends and family!
If you'd like to learn how to build a boat that actually floats (and doesn't wreck your house), check out our boatbuilding classes! And if you'd like to learn how to sail properly (including what to do if your boat capsizes!) check out our Sailing School for adult and youth offerings.
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This blog is written by Hudson River Maritime Museum staff, volunteers and guest contributors.
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