In March of 1923, Buster Keaton released The Love Nest, his last silent comedy short (thereafter he moved on to features).
The title of the film is misleading. The Love Nest is not a place for heavy petting, it is the name of a ship. Thus it is a precursor to The Navigator and The General in being a vehicle named after…a vehicle. I think this is breath-takingly perfect movie. Keaton’s character has been thrown over by a girl (Virginia Fox), so he sets out for adventure on a small boat. He wakes up few days later with greasepaint 5 oclock shadow and gets shanghaied by a whaling ship with a cruel captain (Joe Roberts) who throws all his sailors overboard for small infractions. Through happenstance Keaton keeps avoiding this fate. He eventually escapes by making a hole in the bottom of the ship and sitting in his dingy until it is afloat. Later, he winds up on a naval practice target. When the cannon shoots him, he flies way up into the sky and land back in his boat. But it has all been a dream. He is still moored to the dock.
For more on silent and slapstick comedy don’t miss my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc
To learn more about show biz history, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.