A sad disappointment given Keaton’s talents as an auteur and the fact that this is the film most immediately following The General – an incontestable masterpiece
Long speeches from Keaton here with text titles—this is very unlike Keaton and certainly not a trait in his best works
What is a trait in his best works is Keaton playing the weakling to great comic effect. Here he essentially is a bookworm, very unathletic and fails at the attempts for the first 2/3’rd of the film, but when it comes to rescuing his love, he turns into a heroic figure who can run fast, hurdle obstacles, etc.
Slow starts and expositions are not limited to this weaker effort (Seven Chances, Sherlock Jr.)—but this one is especially unimpressive to begin with
The last 10 minutes it takes off— we’re sitting shotgun with the camera in the boat rowing (like the motorcycle in Sherlock Jr.) and the last 3 minutes we’re sprinting and hurdling to save her-and Keaton is a marvelous athletic—short, like catching Cruise (comparing 21st century Cruise/Jackie Chan/Keaton would be a great paper) or Dustin Hoffman—even if they aren’t fast something about them booking it down the street
Slow-motion camera speed as we’re bouncing and then coming down slowing with an open umbrella—nice touch