Go West

Go West (1925) movie poster

(1925) dir. Buster Keaton
viewed: 06/14/08

Back by popular demand, Buster Keaton.

Actually, I watched this film with my son and the girl upstairs, who is about 6 months older than him.  I am sure that even in San Francisco, I had the unique reaction from a 6 and a 7 year old when I told them: “Guess what I brought?  Buster Keaton” received by hoopla and hoorays as if I’d just said “ice cream”.

It’s been a particular joy to discover these films for myself with them.  I read the subtitles and occasionally explain some historical anachronisms and narrative points, but Felix and Samantha spend the film just dying with laughter.

Go West is very funny, though not Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) funny, it’s as inventive and surprising and clever as anything really.  A down-on-his-luck fellow named “Friendless” departs the East Coast for the West, inspired by Horace Greeley’s notable recommendation, “Go West, young man.”  Friendless’s adventures via rail car to the dessert and the world of cowboys plays quite a bit on some of the conventions of the genre, but also gets some of its most humorous moments from simple gags that Keaton poses, sitting waiting for a cow to make itself milk.  There are some big stunts and lots of hilarious gags, but the big ending results in Keaton leading a cattle drive through downtown Los Angeles, ultimately in a devil suit (so the cattle will chase him clad in the color red).  It’s good stuff.

I tell you, if you are even thinking you might, you should see these films.  You will not regret it.  And if you have kids of about this age…well, the world is your oyster.


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