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Buster Keaton - The High Sign (1921) (SiRiUs sHaRe) torrent

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Torrent Description
The High Sign (1921)

Buster is thrown off a train near an amusement park. There he gets a job in a shooting gallery run by the Blinking Buzzards mob. Ordered to kill a businessman, he winds up protecting the man and his daughter by outfitting their home with trick devices.

Buster Keaton ... Our Hero (as 'Buster' Keaton)
Bartine Burkett ... Miss Nickelnurser (uncredited)
Charles Dorety ... Villain (uncredited)
Al St. John ... Man in during target practice (uncredited)

Director: Edward F. Cline / Buster Keaton


Codecs: OpenDivX 4 / MP3

This little gem of a movie is chock full of inventive gags that will keep you laughing. There are the usual physical ones, such as the house and its many entrances/exits. What had me intrigued were some of the sight gags as well. The dog and the bell was amazing to watch. Each and every corner in Keaton's world has something wondrous around it. The man was an amazing athlete, and it shows here. Watch for the weird guns throughout the film. They don't make sense but then again they don't have to.


Some people -- to paraphrase Mel Brooks -- call Buster Keaton a genius. But that's both too little and too much to give him credit; Einstein was a genius, Keaton... is incredible.

In the Fatty Arbuckle films he's amusing in what we tend to put down as a 'silent-comedy' way, a {by and large} straight-faced clown in a world of food fights, cross-dressing, clumsy cops and general anarchy. After exposure to a few hours of these I was, frankly, ready to write Keaton off as simply another sub-Laurel-and-Hardy slapstick act -- in the Arbuckle shorts he's reasonably funny but nothing to rave over. And then, suddenly, in the middle of the programme, came "The High Sign"... and it knocked me for six here, there, and into the middle of next week.

As a solo debut it's nothing short of astounding. It's the spectacle of a great talent emerging fully-formed and all at once into unique existence, like Athena from the head of Zeus. From the opening scene, the style, the humour, the devices, the sheer *intelligence* are instantly, blazingly original: this isn't just 'silent comedy' to be laughed at and over by the modern public with an air of faint condescension, it's surreal and hilarious and utterly gifted to side-splitting effect by anyone's standard. It was like nothing I'd ever seen before. And the audience reaction -- from the former good-natured 'look-he's-dipped-the-bouquet-in-the-dirty-oil' laughter to the sudden roar of genuine surprise and delight -- was instant and electric. Suddenly, it was we who were eighty years behind the times, belated recipients of a moment of magic. Director, acrobat, actor, gag-writer, cinematographer, stuntman... for the first time Buster Keaton was set free into the universe of his own imagination, with confidence, grace and meticulous inventive brilliance, and before our eyes -- how could we not know it? -- a star was born.

Even more incredible to learn, and yet true, is the fact that Keaton himself rejected and suppressed this first film as insufficiently original, holding up release for a year: no-one ever saw it at the time. He knew he could do better and, unbelievably, he was right. But that's another story...


Although "The High Sign" is a short film and not very well known, in many ways it is one of Keaton's best. It is non-stop entertainment, especially because the plot is very nearly irrelevant and the gags are so constant. What makes this so special in the development of movie comedy are the shooting gallery scene and the trapdoor house. These are examples of quintessential American slapstick, and they have been copied hundreds of time since 1921.

There is also one small special effect in the midst of all the comedy that really caught my eye: Someone spikes Keaton's drink with either alcohol/poison (we are not told) and Keaton sips it. He can tell it is spiked, and looks into the cup, and we see in the drink the image of the rear of a horse kicking it's hind legs. This obvious allusion to the 'drink with a kick' is not only funny, but it is the essence of cinema: show not tell.

I highly recommend this one for anyone looking for a short, innovative, hilarious comedy.

* Buster Keaton's first independent two-reeler. He didn't consider it to funny enough and had it shelved upon its completion in 1920. It was released the following year when his film output was slowed by a broken leg.

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