Probably Keaton's most famous short film. Definitely a classic, and with seven silent shorts left it's usually the shorts up to and including COPS that are considered Keaton's best. After this, the shorts, while still very good and worth discussing, don't remain as consistently awesome as we have been viewing so far. Some say Keaton was itching to do features at this point. Who knows?
As far as the Arbuckle court hearing analogy, I have to be honest and say I have never heard it before, but it makes a lot of sense and does give more meaning to this short....not that the short needed anything else to be completely enjoyable.
I'll get this out of the way and then start my praises. The goat gland specialist gag is the only gag in this short I never understood. However, through the magic of Google, I found this crazy Wikipedia article well worth reading. A dated joke for sure, but once you get the situation, the humor is more understood.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_R._Brinkley
The chase is definitely the most famous thing about COPS, and yes, the pure number of cops in and of itself is breathtaking. The spectacle of this chase no doubt foreshadows all those great chases that would appear in many Keaton features. However, it's not just the number of cops that's impressive, but all the well timed gags. The way Keaton momentarily escapes the cops are fantastic and too numerous to mention, but my favorite is Keaton on the edge of a oval shaped building with a door, cops from both sides running towards Keaton, and Keaton going through the door as cops from both sides miss him by a second. Wonderful timing and camera placement. Keaton grabbing the back of a running vehicle by hand and vertically being driven away is an impressive physical feat and the ladder seesaw gag is one of Keaton's most famous sight gags, and rightfully so. Again, a great combination of timing and physicality. The end of the chase is Keaton at his most gloomy along with the ending of COLLEGE.
The stuff before the chase is great as well. Love the lazy horse ride, the boxing glove gags, the confusion of being tricked into buying a moving family's property, Keaton's initial encounter with Joe Roberts, and the wonderful trick beginning where (spoiler alert) it appears Keaton is in jail and he really isn't. One year later, Harold Lloyd would open his signature film, SAFETY LAST with a similar gag. Ironic Virginia Fox says she'll only marry a business man, considering in real life she got Darryl Zanuck.
An all time classic.