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>
If only a handful of excerpted highlights had survived from "The Love Nest" (a title which, incidentally, bears the most tangential reference to the action of the film, being an ironic comment on the hostile environment in which Buster ends up), we should probably be mourning it as a lost masterpiece. And indeed, in common with even the most unsatisfactory of Buster Keaton's shorts, it contains moments of pure originality: the man had an inspired talent.
However, on seeing it as a whole, I found it somewhat disjointed. The best of Keaton's work builds from one gag to its culmination in the next as a seamless whole, while this one comes across more as a series of assorted sketches, some of which sound good in isolation (the fish-shooting scene), some of which are in themselves a little lame ("All hands on deck"?), but only some of which really integrate into the central, darkly entertaining, storyline of the ship and her homicidal captain. And I have to confess to being disconcerted by some very poor quality special effects and the use of battered stock footage, in contrast to Keaton's usual emphasis on non-fakery: perhaps this was a deliberate statement of some kind on the nature of reality and non-reality, but if so it passed me by. While a number of Keaton's films, e.g. "The Frozen North" or "Sherlock Jr", rely on the dream-sequence theme, here it really came across to me as over-used: either the film is trying to be too clever for its own good, or else it strikes you as simply cheating...
Views on "The Love Nest" seem to be polarised between 'sardonic pinnacle of achievement' and 'not one of Buster's best'; those of us in the second category are evidently overlooking something! But -- while there are certainly sequences I should hate to see lost -- it's one of my least favourite silent shorts.
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