The Balloonatic (1923)

Directed by Buster Keaton and Edward F. Cline

Buster and Phyllis endure a number of outdoor adventures trying to prove to each other their survival skills. The balloon which lands Buster in the wilderness proves useful later on as their canoe is about go over a waterfall.

Given the prominent position of The General in Keaton's legacy, it is apposite to keep in mind that it is boats snd ships that are the motif running throughout his filmography, and not that image so freighted (hah) with the symbolism of incipient modernity; the train. It is therefore somewhat fitting that the best gag in this rather slight short involves a holey kayak, and in true Keaton style, the punchline is not when this is initially revealed to us but rather when he returns to the water and paddles off with his trademark stoneface. I just wish there was something gluing everything together other than, I guess, Buster pestering one woman after another.