Buster Keaton Collection, Vol. 2 — PICK

Twofer movie collections often pair a better film with a lesser one, but that isn’t the case with the Cohen Film Collection’s Buster Keaton Collection, Vol. 2, which offers two must-see Keaton films from 1924, Sherlock Jr. and The Navigator (1924).

At the center of Sherlock Jr. is an essentially cinematic fantasy conceit that has continued to inspire movies from The Purple Rose of Cairo to The Last Action Hero: the idea of characters passing from the movie world to the real world or vice versa.

Keaton plays a movie projectionist who falls asleep on the job and dreams he’s starring in the Sherlock Holmes movie on the screen, with his girl, his rival and others taking supporting roles. Amid adventures that never happen, Keaton’s stunts and effects work still astonish.

The Navigator is wilder and less high-concept, with a complicated plot involving rival factions of spies leading to Keaton’s character, a spoiled rich twit, and the woman who spurned his marriage proposal being stranded alone on an ocean liner.

When the ship runs aground near an island, Buster must battle swordfish on the ocean floor and cannibals assailing the ship. The final gag, when all seems lost, is a doozy.


Caveat Spectator: Slapstick action; stereotyped native cannibals in The Navigator. Both fine family viewing.