Buster Keaton in “The Goat”


Buster Keaton ‘s comedy The Goat was released on this day in 1921

This is one of Keaton’s typical “bad luck” comedies; the title refers not to a literal goat, but rather a vernacular nickname for a schmo whom bad things happen to. Gag for gag, it’s one of his best comedies.

Stuff that happens:

* He gets into a bread line and stands there for what seems like forever until he realizes the people in front of him are department store mannequins.

* He looks in the window of a police station just as a murderer is getting his mug shot taken. When the photographer isn’t looking, the crook rigs it so the camera snaps Buster’s photo instead. This results in Keaton’s picture being circulated all over town on a wanted poster.

* Business with a horseshoe. Buster sees a man find one, throw it, and instantly find a wallet full of money. Buster does the same, but when he throws his horseshoe it hits a cop in the head. Chase ensures! An extremely hilarious chain of events as Keaton repeatedly jumps out of frying pans into new fires.

The old lampost in the coat gag

* Great gag of Keaton putting his coat on while standing against a lamp post.

* Famous shot of Keaton approaching the camera while riding on the cow catcher of a train.

* Buster, invited to dinner by a girl whose father turns out to be the detective who has been chasing him. Recognizing the cop only when he joins them at the dinner table, Buster springs from his seat, across the table, up over the father and out the transom over the door. This moment is as close to an animated cartoon character as it is possible for a human being to get. It is that breathtakingly impossible, and yet there it is, on the screen.

For more on silent and slapstick comedy history, including great Buster Keaton comedies like “The Goat”, don’t miss my book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube




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