It’s already there, the Shorts’ Blogathon hosted by Movies Silently. I have to say, this was one of the blogathons I was expecting the most. I think it’s a swell idea and it’s now the occasion for me to do a review of Buster Keaton’s The High Sign. Directed in 1921 by Buster Keaton himself and Edward F. Cline, The High Sign is a short silent comedy starring Buster Keaton (of course), Bartine Burkett and the giant Ingram B. Pickett. Along with One Week, The High Sign is really one of my most favourite Buster Keaton’s short films. It’s also, in my opinion, one of his most inventive ones.
Like many Buster Keaton’s films, the story is quite simple and easy to resume. In an amusement park shooting gallery, thanks to one of his genius inventions, Buster is noticed by Tiny Tim and his Blinking Buzzards, a gang of bandits. Because he SEEMS to be a very good shooter, they decide to hire him to kill a man. Not a long time after, August Nicklenurser, the town miser, and his daughter also notice his “talent” and decide to hire him as a bodyguard, because August is in mortal danger. When he accesses to The Blinking Buzzard’s HQ, they tell him that he has to kill… August Nicklenurser! You can imagine that this is a problem for the poor Buster, because as it says in the film: ” Guarding a man from danger and killing him at the same time is SOME job”. What will Buster do? Well, I’ll let you watch the film to discover it!
As I said sooner, The High Sign is certainly one of the most inventive Buster Keaton’s films, especially for its numerous genius gags. 20 minutes long, it’s great and effective and you can’t get bored by watching it. I can’t tell you what are ALL the gags in this film, because there are so many, but I can present you some examples. The first that came up to my mind is when Buster steals a gun to a policeman and replace it with a banana. Later in the film, the same policeman wants to stop Tiny Tim, but realizes that his gun has been replaced by a banana. Seriously, I love this moment. His reaction worths a million! The first gag of the film is when Buster tries to read a newspaper and he unfolds it, and unfolds it, and finally it comes out to be a big poster made out of newspapers!
This would probably sound very strange, but The High Sign has one of my favourite centered heading. It’s the first one, the one that introduces us to the film: “Our Hero came from Nowhere, he wasn’t going anywhere and got kicked off Somewhere”. And then we see the poor Buster kicked off a train, God knows why, and his adventure start in an amusement park. I was telling you that this movie has many original gags, but another very ingenious thing in this film is the Nicklenurser’s house. I really believe this is a movie an architect can enjoy watching. It’s an ordinary house, pretty, but when August and his daughter learn that they are in danger, they decide to install some traps and secret passages. As a result, you’ll have my favourite scene of the film: the pursuit in the house. In this marvellous scene, you see how all these traps and secret passages work. It’s very interesting and so much fun to watch! I really wonder how they made all this, but it’s certainly very clever.
Another thing I love about The High Sign is the very original casting. You have, of course, Buster Keaton, funny and clumsy as ever, but also very brilliant. Buster Keaton was a genius, his character in the film was one too. What more can I say? Buster Keaton was a legend. Ingram B. Pickett is the perfect bad guy. And he is so tall! Finally, Bartine Burkett, who plays Miss Nicklenurser, is so adorable and her acting is very nice to watch. She is expressive and her acting is very effective. She is able to show many expressions only with her eyes. That was the power of the actors of the Silent Area. I also love the moment when she plays ukulele. That’s sweet, but also ironic because it’s a silent film. Well, it can become another gag when we think about it. ” You play so well my dear, but I can’t hear you!”
I’m very glad I wrote this review because I wanted to write an article about The High Sign few months ago, but never did. This wonderful blogathon was the perfect occasion to. I hope you enjoyed reading my entry and that, if you haven’t seen The High Sign yet, it will make you want to watch it. It’s only 20 minutes long and it’s a very nice and easy movie to watch. Of course, don’t miss the other entries of this blogathon! You can find them by click there: Shorts! A Tiny Blogathon. If you wish to watch The High Sign, here is a link to see it. Enjoy!