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Author Topic: The Goat (1921) - Buster Keaton  (Read 500 times)

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Offline Paul Pain

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The Goat (1921) - Buster Keaton
« on: July 01, 2017, 04:55:42 AM »
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    Watch THE GOAT in the link above.

    We have our first Keaton police chase short.  The basic premise is simple: Keaton falls afoul of cops, and a chase begins.  This short is typically Keaton fair, with Buster using various objects to escape police officers and employing surprises in other cases.  There is a major plot hole in that the cops should be aware that the photo isn't of Dead Shot Dan, but this is minor when one is enjoying himself so much.

    One of Keaton's greatest skills is camera placement.  Examples of this include the train riding up to the camera with him on the cowcatcher and the view of Joe Roberts' face when he realizes who his dinner guest is.  Add in a strong supporting cast, and you have yourselves 22 minutes of top quality film, even if not always funny.

    Something I notice is the difference between Keaton police chases and Three Stooges police chases.  Keaton focuses more on using people and objects to separate himself from the police by interrupting their attention; the Stooges used people to attack and confuse the police.  Regardless...

    10/10 [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke] [poke]
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    Offline metaldams

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    Re: The Goat (1921) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #1 on: July 02, 2017, 06:40:52 PM »
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  •       Really hard to say definitively, but if at gun point, you were to ask me to name my favorite Keaton short, it would be THE GOAT.  Like THE GENERAL, it showcases one gigantic chase that takes up a good portion of the film that manages to be clever, funny, and tell a story all at the same time.

          The surprise gags are awesome, and in case anybody who is reading has never seen this short, do not continue reading this paragraph.  Like Paul said, the camera placement of some gags works wonders.  It appears Keaton is hitched to a tire on back of a car to get away from the cops, but the car moves away with the tire still in place, the camera now revealing the tire placed on a stand separate from the car.  The camera, as well as Keaton's worldview, gives an impression the tire is attached to the car, cleverly fooling the audience.  Keaton getting past the train tracks egging the cops on knowing the train is coming?  Brilliant.  My favorite gag, though notvreally a camera trick, is after Keaton locks the cops in the back of the truck and gets away, a minute or so later, Keaton, resting on a sidewalk, has the truck randomly stop by him, dump out the cops, and the chase randomly resumes as if nothing happened.  Again, brilliant.

          Some great physical stuff here too.  When the car drags Keaton across the sidewalk, the slide he takes that causes his body to contort in an awkward way had to be murder on the back.  The fall he takes out of the hospital window is fantastic, but the greatest moment is Keaton, jumping on the back of Joe Roberts as a catapault to dive through the top opening of the door to escape the room.  Very clever, funny, and an unbelievable physical act.  No stunt doubles or camera tricks here.  Watch the gag in the link below.

          Also gotta mention the iconic shot of Keaton on front of the train, moving closer and closer to the camera until he's right in the audience's face, yet still refuses to break the fourth wall. We may be physically close to Keaton, but he's emotionally distant,  as this is Keaton blatantly not acknowledging the audience, something he only did in that one banana gag in The High Sign, never to do again.  Also, the complete antithesis of Chaplin, who made a career conversing with an audience.  Two great clowns, two different viewpoints.

          I absolutely love THE GOAT and can watch it over and over again.  A definite favorite of mine.


    Offline Big Chief Apumtagribonitz

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    Re: The Goat (1921) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #2 on: July 03, 2017, 09:21:11 AM »
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  • Parts of this one looked like dry runs for Cops and The General.  Buster's a better actor than I remembered.  Extremely subtle.

    Offline Umbrella Sam

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    Re: The Goat (1921) - Buster Keaton
    « Reply #3 on: July 03, 2017, 12:00:56 PM »
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  • Indeed, THE GOAT is among Keaton's finest works. After all, the shot of the train approaching the camera is one of the shots most associated with Keaton, along with the falling wall from STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. Great humor mixed with interesting visuals makes this a phenomenal short.

    Again, Keaton does a very good job at playing around with the audience's expectations, such as when he gets on the back of the train only for the rest of it to leave without him or the tire that's not attached to the car. Interestingly enough, Keaton had shot the latter from a different angle so you couldn't see the tire initially. I watched a video on it and the narrator pointed out that the reason this second shot worked better was since you could see Keaton's face more clearly, even though the first shot made it a little more unexpected. This is a good reminder that Keaton was a great director who had to think of things from every angle possible and choose which one he thought was the best, which he usually accomplished successfully.

    Joe Roberts once again makes for a great choice to go up against Keaton and both he and the police officers keep up pretty well with him. As metaldams mentioned, one great gag is when the cops return from the truck. Another minor gag that I really liked was when Keaton actually took advantage of the misunderstanding with the photo to get rid of the taxi driver.

    The one minor problem that I have with this short is that there's not really much of a sense of closure. Yes, Keaton escapes from Roberts and gets the girl in the end, but Dead Shot Dan goes free and Keaton's image is still associated with it. However, when a short is this fantastic, I'm willing to forgive that minor detail. This is one that I think you should probably show to someone if you want to show them Keaton for the first time.

    10 out of 10