Can Never Get Enough Buster – The ‘High Sign’ (1921)

Nearly a century later and the physicality to this man’s humor still holds up.  Looking for a job, our man (Buster Keaton) gets hired to be bodyguard, but also gets pressured to kill the same man by the local gang.

Buster_Keaton_The_High_Sign_1921Throwing up gang signs is less modern than you may think.

I know all of my reviews haven’t migrated over here, but if you’ve been following me for any length of time on previous media, you know how hard I geek out for Buster Keaton.  In my opinion, this type of slapstick didn’t really translate well into the talkies, but for the silent era, it has an endless amount of charm when executed correctly, and with Buster, it is almost always just that.  The gags go places that you don’t expect; it will present to you a setup, not take it, and then blindside you with something that you don’t see coming.  Another thing I love is how he is not afraid to sacrifice his body for a laugh, and while there isn’t as much imminent danger here as there is in The General or Seven Chances, the finale with the customized house is vintage Buster and put a huge smile on my face.

Buster trainBefore the age of the stuntman, you had to go out and commandeer a train the old fashion way.

I’ve been getting a mixed bag as far as quality goes with these shorts, as Youtube is a bit of a crapshoot for what you’re going to get, but the print I watched had a fantastic score, and that made me realize how much the music can make or break your experience.  I would say that of the nine Keaton shorts I’ve seen so far, this is in the upper echelon, and while it doesn’t match the exuberance of the sidesplitting One Week, I would place it somewhere in the top five.

The ‘High Sign’ (1921) ****

– Critic for Hire


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