Shorts! A Tiny Blogathon: The High Sign

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It’s already here, the Shorts! Blogathon hosted by Movies Silently. I have to say, this was one of the blogathons I was expecting the most. It’s a swell idea and it gives me the occasion to review Buster Keaton’s The High Sign (1921). Directed by Buster Keaton himself and Edward F. Cline, The High Sign is a short silent comedy starring Buster Keaton, Bartine Burkett, and the giant Ingram B. Pickett. Along with One Week, The High Sign is one of my most favourite Buster Keaton’s short films. It’s also, in my opinion, one of his most inventive ones.

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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 professional 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 quite a dilemma for the poor Buster. 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? I’ll let you watch the film to discover it!

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As I said sooner, The High Sign is certainly one of the most creative 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 comes 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 Later in the film, the same policeman wants to stop Tiny Tim but realizes that his gun has been replaced by a banana.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 it finally comes out to be an enormous piece of paper!

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This will 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 starts in an amusement park. I was telling you that this movie has many exciting gags 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 have my favourite scene of the film: the pursuit in the house. In this marvelous scene, you see how all these traps and secret passages work. It’s interesting, captivating, and, overall, so much fun to watch! I really wonder how they made all this, but it’s certainly amazingly clever.

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I’m also quite fond of The High Sign’s casting. Buster Keaton is funny and clumsy as ever, but also very brilliant. This actor and director was a genius and so is his character in the film. 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 nicely appreciable. She is expressive and has an effective acting game. She is able to share many feelings only with her eyes. That was the power Silent Area’s actors. I also love this moment when she plays the 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!”

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I’m glad I wrote this review because I wanted to discuss The High Sign on my blog a 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 20 minutes of pure entertainment. Of course, don’t miss the other entries written for this blogathon! You can find them here: Shorts! A Tiny Blogathon. If you wish to watch The High Sign, here is a link. Enjoy!

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