Directed by Buster Keaton
Release Date: March, 1963
Total Running Time: 20 minutes
When Buster joins a ship's crew on the high seas, he'll have to learn to swab the deck, tend the sails, and survive the sadistic captain if he's ever to make it back to shore.
Buster Keaton: The Sailor
Joe Roberts: The Captain
Virginia Fox: The Girl
Like several of Keaton’s other films, including Convict 13, The Play House and Sherlock Jr., The Love Nest includes an extended dream sequence.
The Love Nest was Keaton's final silent short. It's the story of a man who lost his interest in women and everything else. After arguing with his girl (Virginia Fox), Keaton sits in a boat, the Cupid, composing a letter to her. He writes that since she cancelled their engagement, he decided not to marry her. He seals the envelope with his tears and hands it to a man on the dock for delivery. He pushes off.
Several days later, he's spouted a shoe-polish beard. He sees a whaling ship, the Love Nest. The captain (Joe Roberts) has him hauled onboard. They go below deck for coffee. The steward accidentally pours the hot liquid on Roberts, who marches him up on the deck and throws him overboard. A funeral wreath follows. They go back down, and Roberts adds Keaton to the crew list. He offers the recently vacated steward position to him, and Keaton accepts.
The next day Roberts orders Keaton to swab the deck. When he finishes, he tosses the bucket of water below, soaking Roberts. Luckily, another crewmember grabs the bucket and Roberts throws him off. Keaton hands him the wreath. Roberts orders him to clean the cabin, and he begins by dusting the gun. He inadvertently points it at Roberts. Realizing his mistake, he goes up on deck, climbs the stairway into the water, and shoots. He brings back a plump fish.
Later, Keaton stares moodily out a porthole. Roberts takes it off of the wall and hands it to him - it's only a picture. Roberts then asks for coffee. Keaton serves it carefully through a funnel, and puts the pot on the table. He turns to leave, but instead of grabbing his rag he snags the tablecloth, spilling coffee all over Roberts. The captain lunges at him, but Keaton tells him to wait. He takes himself on deck, selects a nice wreath, and prepares to jump. Roberts pulls him back.
Another crewmember sights a whale. Roberts calls for all hands on deck, so Keaton places his palms on the floor. The rest of the crew go to the harpoon gun. Roberts steps on his hand, but Keaton continues to follow orders. A sailor presents the end of the harpoon rope to Keaton, who can't figure out how to tie it to the boat so he holds it, bracing himself. They shoot the harpoon and the whale pulls him overboard. He swims back to the boat, towing the whale, and he hands the rope to Roberts. He gets yanked overboard, so Keaton throws a wreath after him.
Keaton announces to the men that he's now the captain. While he's talking, Roberts climbs back on board, carrying the wreath. Keaton runs below, and the rest of the men leap overboard and into a rowboat. Roberts comes after Keaton, pulling the locked door off. Keaton points the gun at him, but finds it isn't loaded. He crosses himself off of the crew list and runs above. Dizzy after tripping on a rope, he knocks on the door that Roberts pulled off, opens it, and walks overboard. He grabs a rope and a wreath drifts past him.
That night, Keaton sits on the boat's ladder, dreaming of tossing a wreath. He climbs on deck and finds a lifeboat, the Little Love Nest. He can't lift it over the rail, so he brings the water to it by smashing a hole in the hull. He plays a little solitaire while the Love Nest sinks.
The next morning, he runs into a floating platform. He decides to do a little fishing off of it. He has a hard time landing a big fish and he finally shoots it in the bottom of the boat, sinking it. He gets onto the platform and continues to fish. He goes to the other side, which has a big 3 painted on it. Meanwhile, the navy is taking target practice, blowing up platforms 1 and 2. They shoot at Number 3 but they miss; Keaton thinks it's a big fish so he moves to fish near the explosion. Finally they hit the platform and Keaton explodes up into the air.
He wakes up back in the Cupid. His situation is desperate: no land, no food, and no water. He stares out at the horizon. Then a young woman swims past; the boat is still tied up at the dock.
Midway through shooting The Love Nest producer Joe Schenck decided that Keaton could start making feature length films. According to his autobiography, Keaton had wanted to make longer films since 1920 but Schenck disagreed with him (p. 125). So after The Love Nest was completed, Keaton began work on Three Ages. — Lisle Foote