On the Set: Man Overboard

Most of the articles describing accidents on set are about Buster. He was the one at the center of the action, pulling the dangerous stunts, never using a double. And if it’s not Buster, it’s one of the stunt men he hired to test out tricks before he performed them before a camera – every now and then I come across a story of one of these brave men loosing their teeth or almost dying.

Very rarely does there seem to be a completely unpredicted accident like this one:

(Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger, July 29, 1922)

What a terrible tragedy that could’ve been! As it was, I guess Buster liked the look of it because it stayed in the film.


Knowing the man made it out alright, the moment does have strong comedic value – what skill and experience these fierce whalers have! Or maybe they just couldn’t fish the harpoon out of the water for another take. Do you suppose it might still be down there? Covered in ocean flora. The cozy home of some little sardine?

As a side note, I think it’s very interesting that she mentions Roscoe Arbuckle wrote the story. The Love Nest was written and filmed during the time Roscoe was banned from working in films after his acquittal. Buster was not shy about wanting to help his friend in any way he could, and Roscoe was known to hang around Buster’s studio. I can’t imagine him standing by silent while Buster talked stories and scenes over with his gag men. Could Roscoe have been instrumental in forming the story of The Love Nest? Or was Constance Palmer thinking of Day Dreams (which we know Roscoe wrote) when she put together this article?

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