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Film / The Railrodder

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The Railrodder is a 1965 short silent comedy film co-directed by and starring Buster Keaton in one of his final roles as the eponymous Railrodder. The film was produced by the National Film Board of Canada as a humorous sightseeing tour cross the country, but with the familiar Buster Keaton comic flair.

Keaton plays the Railrodder, an unnamed old man in London, England, who discovers a travel ad for Canada in the local newspaper. Feeling the winds of adventure calling, he promptly tosses the paper aside and jumps into the Thames River, swimming his way to Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia. From there, the Rodder hijacks a speeder car from a Canadian National track gang and begins his grand tour, passing through Montreal, Ottawa, and Vancouver. Along the way, the Rodder gets into a few comic hijinks while on his speeder car, including doing his laundry, making breakfast, and going duck hunting (complete with camouflage). In the end, the Rodder does make it to Canada's west coast and enjoys the sight... for a few minutes before a Japanese businessman coming the other way (presumably through Alaska) takes the speeder for his own grand tour. Undaunted, the Rodder begins his long walk back home...


The film can be watched for free on YouTube here. A behind the scenes documentary, "Buster Keaton Rides Again", is also available and shows black-and-white footage of Keaton working on the film.

This short film provides examples of:

  • Bottomless Fuel Tanks: The Rodder's speeder never seems to stop for fuel. Not that this troubles him at all.
  • Cool Train: The speeder car with its endless fuel supply, as well as the Canadian National FP-9 and GP-9s that almost runs the Rodder off the rails.
  • Determinator: Swimming to Canada, speeding through Canada, and walking the same way back home, nothing stops the Rodder from enjoying his holiday.
  • Hammerspace: The speeder car's supply box seems to be endless, as the Rodder manages to pull out camouflage supplies, a full tea service, and a bison fur coat.
  • Olympic Swimmer: The only explanation that both the Railrodder and his Japanese counterpart could swim such long distances. That, or Rule of Funny
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  • Rail Enthusiast: As displayed in films such as The General, Our Hospitality, and The Goat, Keaton enjoyed filming and working with trains, so this film is no exception.
  • The Stoic: No matter the danger of trains running over him, or the beautiful Canadian wilderness, the Railrodder never once displays anything apart from mild amusement.


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