Dead Shot Buster – The Goat (1921)

Writer’s note: I had the opportunity recently to go to the local museum of science and history (MOSH for the locals) and take in a trio of Buster Keaton shorts.  It was a fun experience, except the projector had to be reset every 7 minutes, which was a little disappointing.  I have already seen all three of them previously, so it wasn’t the end of the world, and I still wanted to review them for this blog’s sake.  The main point of this aside is to let you know: the following 3 reviews are for 20 minute shorts, so they will, in turn, be shorter reviews (makes sense, right?).  Enjoy!

The man knows funny.  The plot to this is very simple: when our man (Buster Keaton) accidentally gets mistaken for the local outlaw, Dead Shot Dan, he is forced to become a fugitive and elude the police force, including the large and imposing sheriff.  This is the tried and true formula for Buster: one man vs. the entirety of the city’s local law enforcement; he does it in Cops, he does it in Convict 13, and he does it here.  You may think that it might starts to get old after seeing it more than one time, but you would be mistaken.  It’s not just that, though, and there are a number of physical gags featured throughout.

goatI love the intro to this.

With The Goat, there is a lot of well thought out set-ups.  It keeps building and building until it reaches its finale, and that’s when it shines the brightest: the battle of wits and physicality between Buster and the sheriff, all the while wrecking a local apartment building.  The stunts here aren’t the most dangerous of his career, because that honor would either go to The General or Sherlock Jr., but that doesn’t make them any less funny.  As always, his eyes are the key of making his silent films work, and you can totally read it in his face whenever he gets an idea or a realization.  This short is all smiles, and is well worth the twenty minutes.

The Goat (1921) ****1/2

– Critic for Hire

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