Yes, this is the first filmed Keaton short that was initially shelved and then released when he needed to buy some time after injuring his ankle while filming THE ELECTRIC HOUSE. Can I see why this was shelved? I suppose. It has the strange distinction of at times not feeling like a Keaton film yet at other times feeling totally like a Keaton film, and I can understand wanting to get his first effort just right. There was a back up plan for his first feature too, but we'll get to that later.
So what about this film is not Keaton like? Well, yeah, the supporting cast. The cast of bad guys especially have the feel of a Mack Sennett film, a bit cartoonish at times. The gag towards the end where the bandit's head gets caught in the door, and his eyes are blackened with a ham fisted face is very cartoonish and not the kind of thing you'd normally see out of Keaton. The whole gag where Keaton ties the dog on a string attached to a bell to set up that his shots are hitting his target is essentially a sound gag. Silent film works best with visual humor. Also, when Keaton fools the audience, does not slip on the banana peel and does that hand signal (a.k.a. The High Sign), to the audience, Keaton breaks the fourth wall. Subsequent films Keaton never acknowledges the audience, and there will be a part in next week's short where this is all too clear.
Sound gag aside, these things aren't inherently bad, just un Keaton like. Some great stuff in this short as well. The never ending unfolding newspaper is classic, as is Keaton's fall while standing on the bench. Keaton hanging his hat and jacket on the wall where nothing is there is standard Keaton, and him later painting a hanger on the wall that works is a nice touch. The obvious highlight of the short, though, is the booby trapped house that shows off both the cerebral (in the thought it takes to get done), mixing with the physical (the obvious skill it takes to pull such stunts off). Just a brilliant final few minutes and the kind of holy shit moment we come to expect watching prime Keaton.
For a guy finding himself as an artist, fantastic stuff.