In what is perhaps Buster Keaton's most fatalistic short subject, the comedian portrays a husband who has been diligently building a boat in his basement. It's finally done, and he, his wife (Sybil Seely) and their two boys prepare to tow it to the harbor for its first run. The car slowly pulls the craft, which is too big to fit, through the basement doorway, and the house just as slowly collapses. But this is just the beginning -- at the pier, the car sinks, the christening bottle dents the hull, and then the boat itself sinks, with Buster aboard. But as the title says: "You can't keep a good boat down." Finally the little boat is at sea (even if its life preserver sinks and anchor floats), and Buster and his family try valiantly to makes themselves at home as the waves toss them to and fro. Of course this can't go on forever; in the darkest part of the night, a storm fiercely blows and the boat begins to sink. Buster desperately radios for help, but when the telegraph operator (played by Keaton's co-director, Eddie Cline) asks for the boat's name, and Buster replies "Damfino" (which is, in fact, its name), the operator angrily replies, "Neither do I!" As Buster and his family cram into their makeshift lifeboat, the situation looks very bad, but somehow they wind up on land. "Where are we?" the wife wants to know. There's no need for a title card to record Buster's reply: "Damned if I know!" This is one of Keaton's best two-reelers, which was almost lost to the ravages of time and deterioration -- when Keaton's work was first being restored, only one print of The Boat was found, and several scenes were nearly past the point of salvaging. But the picture squeaked through intact, and its indelible images have become a part of silent film's heritage.
by Janiss Garza synopsis