Keaton has built a boat in his garage, and takes his family out for a sail. Destroys the house getting the boat out, destroys the car getting the boat in the water, finally destroys the boat, leaving the four of them floating in a bathtub for a life raft, when his son pulls the drain plug. The boat itself is as complicated as The Electric House, with collapsing masts (for going under bridges) and makeshift repairs. Nice scene where the whole boat is rotating in a storm (actually rotating, not just a camera trick) while Keaton tries to stay right-side-up. Pretty sure I like this one more than Electric House… in fact, most of these are at least as good as that one. Don’t know why I obsessed on it for so long.
The Love Nest
I recognized Big Joe Roberts from Cops, the giant clear-eyed fat man. Turns out he plays the antagonist in almost every one of Keaton’s silent shorts. He died of a stroke shortly after Our Hospitality in October 1923. Big Joe plays the cruel, murderous captain of a whaling boat Love Nest that picks up Keaton who is stranded at sea. At the end, Keaton can’t launch the lifeboat alone, so he sinks the whole ship to float the small craft. Entire Love Nest sequence turns out to have been a figment of his food-and-water-deprived imagination… thinking himself stranded at sea for weeks, his boat is still tied to the dock.
As in “scape”goat, turns out… there’s no goat here. Dead Shot Dan arranges to have the police photographer get a shot of bread-line refugee Keaton through a window, then makes his escape. Keaton sees the poster, thinks it’s for real and that he killed a guy he pushed down in another town, chased around by sheriff Big Joe Roberts, ending up accidentally in Big Joe’s own apartment. The escape from the apartment has one of my favorite series of gags, a chase through the building’s single elevator.
My Wife’s Relations
Running from cops, Keaton accidentally (preacher speaks Polish I think) gets married to a woman who’s trying to have him arrested. Comes home to her family of large, rough, intimidating men. Tries to fit in at first, then plots to escape, riding the train to Reno at the end.
Keaton is friends with Big Joe in this one. They live in a one-room house that inventively conceals a bath, bed, stove and kitchen table with ropes and hinges. Both men are competing for a woman (same girl played the wife in The Boat, her farmer father is played by Joe Keaton), leading to a chase scene where Keaton disguises himself as a scarecrow. Best part is Keaton in a dangerously high chase with a dog that can climb ladders (up and down!) which ends up going through the rigged house.
Keaton wanders into an Indian reservation right after they swear to kill white men in response to their land being stolen by oil barons… finds time mid-chase to make an asbestos suit, so after he fails to burn at the stake, he’s made an honorary member of the tribe. Now he and chief Big Joe team up against the scheming white men. Virginia Fox, hot girl from The Goat, Cops and others, plays the chief’s daughter, Keaton’s prize for saving the reservation at the end. She never gets much to do except to look pretty in a few close-ups.
These are all totally worthwhile shorts… think I’d choose Scarecrow and Goat to show off to others, if I ever had people over for a shorts-fest like I keep threatening to do.
Big Joe Roberts: