A satire of western movies. Roscoe comes into town after riding the rails. The saloon has a trap door over a pit where bodies are tossed as they are shot. A black patron is taunted and shot... See full summary »
Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle
Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle,
Al St. John
Buster bids goodbye to Virginia and all women, sailing away in his "Cupid." Later, without food or water, he is taken on board "The Love Nest" which has a very mean captain. A crewman who spills coffee on the captain's hand is thrown overboard. So is anyone else who bothers the captain. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Remarkable, typically inventive Keaton short, laced with a horrifying comic disregard of death and an emasculating admission of inadequacy. Buster is a heartbroken swain who decides to cure his loss by forswearing women and manfully taking to the sea. Here he meets a mad brute of a captain who throws overboard any of his crew that displeases him. Buster's entirely spurious skill endears him to the captain.
Besides being a wonderful parody of macho Ahab-like naval nonsense, this is another Keaton fantasy as metaphysical nightmare. Buster is cast adrift on a metaphorical sea, boarding the ship of death, with the Grim Reaper as his master. Prowess, ingenuity and sheer accidental good fortune keep him afloat until a climactic, heavily resonant, chase through a labyrinthine ship.
I don't mean to weigh the film down with pseudo-meaningfulness, but the humour of Keaton's films has an eerie, lingering, resonant effect on the soul, similar to the Alice books. Supposedly comic froth, visual metaphors from his films haunt the mind for years after as unerringly accurate encapsulations of the human condition. No wonder Beckett adored him, although I know whose comfort I'd rather have.
And the film is very, very funny, ridiculous, clever, awe-inspiring. The gorgeous clarity of the film's imagery, and the eerie composition of space combine to create a convincing landscape of the mind. Keaton's physical grace may seem less showy than Chaplin's, but its very suppleness in modesty astonishes, as does his graceful negotiation of obstacles and forbidding spaces. Indeed, it is Buster's very freedom of movement that is finally redemptive - although he is a mere automaton going through his creator's paces, his inevitable imperturbility and melancholy dignity achieves an aesthetic, transcendence of beauty and grace. The typical Keaton revelation that the movie is a dream is not bathetic - our dreams of adventure are never a joke; but more importantly, the anxieties and desires of these dreams are both recognisable and deeply , painfully disturbing.
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