Monday, June 9, 2014

Let's Go to the Movies: The Navigator (1924)



What's better than a Sunday afternoon at the movies?  How about Silent Sundays at the Revue Cinema. Throughout the year, Silent Sundays gives Toronto movie fans the chance to enjoy silent era shorts and features at the saved-from-the-brink charming Revue Cinema on Roncesvalles Avenue in west end Toronto.  Nolan girls of various ages and shapes can often be found in attendance.  One of us, Maureen, is the official tweeter (@SilentRevue) for the group.


Real movie theatre popcorn.
It's what they munch in Asgard.


It was with unspoken assent that Nolan girls planned to attend The Navigator on June 8th, but it turned into something even more special than a regular #TeamBuster outing.  It was niece Lenny's first at-the-movies movie experience!  Her first movie theatre popcorn!  Her first Buster movie!

I have had the opportunity to see many of Buster's films in theatres in recent years and never have I shared more laughs with an audience be it a short like The Neighbors or an acclaimed feature like The Cameraman.  When the lights go up you can actually feel the ache of stomach muscles.

Girls Go Wild!
Lenny with her cousin Janet, Aunt Paddy, Aunt Maureen, mom Tracey, Aunt Paula
(dad Jim was the photographer)


1924s The Navigator co-directed by Buster and Donald Crisp is one of Keaton's most popular features.  A rich young sap and the rich young lady who spurned his marriage proposal are trapped on a luxury liner set adrift by spies.  Her father sold the ship, spies bought it and other spies want to wreck it.  It's the MacGuffin.  The fun begins when these two babes at sea have to fend for themselves far away from civilization.  Among the biggest laughs at yesterdays screening were the scene where Rollo (Buster) and Betsy (Kathryn McGuire) are running around the ship and keep  missing each other, and the clever cameo from director Donald Crisp.  Lenny, an aficionado of Margaret and H.A. Rey's Curious George was particularly fond of the scene where the monkey showed up.

It is especially heartwarming at silent film screenings to see families attending with their children.  Kids laugh the loudest and it is wonderfully contagious.  Lenny's excitement in the lobby when she saw the poster, "Look!  It's the picture of Buster in his under water outfit!" caused a ripple of smiles down the queue of ticket buyers.

Makia Matsumura and Lenny
Not the usual "first movie" experience.

Here's Lenny with accompanist Makia Matz, a large part of the wonderful experience of enjoying Buster's The Navigator.  A great time was had by all, and we want more.  Silent Sundays curator Alicia Fletcher mentioned that before the summer is over they will have a screening in Lenny's east end neighbourhood.  We're there!  The fall season will start off with Josef von Sternberg's Underworld, which has long been on my wish list.  It's not exactly a Lenny movie, but Janet has already committed.  Toronto is lucky to have Silent Sundays at the Revue. 



14 comments:

  1. This is wonderful. So happy for Lenny and all of you. I'm envious.

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  2. There's a seat for you any time you make it to Toronto.

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  3. I was hoping you'd write about this after seeing Maureen's pics on Facebook yesterday. Looks like fun.

    I'm currently reading a book about silent movies. I think I'm gonna watch a few over the next few weeks myself.

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    1. It was a blast. There's a real audience in Toronto for silent films and it's getting larger all the time. Our festivals would make for a good movie vacation.

      What titles are you planning on in the near future? Will they be recommendations from the book you're reading?



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    2. Haven't decided on titles yet, but I've read about Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, the Talmadge sisters, William S. Hart and John Gilbert, to name a few - and yeah, it's all from the book: SILENT STARS by Jeanine Basinger.

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    3. Oh, what a wonderful story! I once saw a Keaton silent with a room full of children and there is no more beautiful sound that their innocent, delighted laughter. Great post!

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    4. Legendary names, Rich. Some great movies in store. My husband likes to poke fun at "my" silent movies, but one night I caught him absolutely enthralled with 1925s "Ben-Hur". He claimed it was "better than the average", and that may be, but a well told story will always work its magic.

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    5. FlickChick, I always say for a good time show the kids something funny. They'll always remember it.

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  4. Sounds wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. A few years ago my local theater ran Keaton's COLLEGE and it was a very enjoyable evening, with big laughs throughout. Today's comedies have no idea how to build a gag.

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    1. "Today's comedies have no idea how to build a gag."

      I'm always on the lookout for a good laugh, but it seems like too many today will just keep throwing stuff at the audience hoping something will click. Maybe it's just me. Other folks are laughing.

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  5. I adored reading this! What a wonderful experience, and so great you could share it with family. I hope Lenny has many, many more happy movie theater experiences!

    Best wishes,
    Laura

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    1. It's a day I'll long remember and hope Lenny always will.

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  6. Great photos and a sweet story! So wonderful that your niece likes Buster, and could catch one of his movies at the theater with her family as her first big screen experience.
    She's off to a good start!

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    1. On the one hand there is brainwashing and on the other hand there is sharing. We're a very sharing family!

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