In a novel twist on the romantic comedy formula, Buster Keaton stars opposite an affectionate cow in this warmhearted Western farce that demonstrates Keaton’s skill at pathos, without lessening his own aptitude for epic slapstick: stampeding cattle wreaking hilarious havoc in a pioneer metropolis!
When Buster Keaton completed Go West in 1925 could he have realised that the mastery of his pioneering filmmaking techniques and comedic talent would render his films fascinating cinema over 70 years later? Light years ahead of his time in camera and editing methodology, stunts (often extremely dangerous and performed by Keaton himself) and the choreography of action. Go West is still as lively, crazy and screamingly funny as the night it opened. The protagonist is a lonely soul – aptly named Friendless (Keaton in the lead) – who finds work on a cattle ranch way out West. While the other men are off being fearless, dusty, sweaty and macho, Friendless finds a soulmate in an devoted cow named Brown Eyes. The two share moments, equally touching and humourous, as Friendless waits for Brown Eyes to milk herself. His devotion edges toward the absurd when Friendless attaches antlers to Brown Eyes’ head so she can defend herself.
Typical of Keaton’s signature style, he mixes bone-dry sentiment with supremely clever gags. Keaton – born to a family of acrobats known as The Human Mops – was perhaps the only person living at the time capable of completing the astonishing feats of flexibility and comic timing depicted in Go West. Moving beyond slap-stick, Go West typifies an ambition determined to shatter all the expectations of early cinematic. —MIFF
Joseph Frank Keaton was born on October 4, 1895, to a pair of vaudeville performers. Spending his childhood on the road with his family, he earned the nickname Buster at the age of six months. By the age of three, the youngster was appearing as part of his parents act whenever they could evade child labor laws. In vaudeville, Keaton developed remarkable talents as an acrobatic comedian with a superb sense of timing, and became a rising star by his teens. In early 1917, Buster left his act with his parents, and appeared in a Broadway comic revue later that year, but the key to Keaton’s future came when he met a fellow vaudeville comedian. Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle was starring in a low-budget two-reel screen comedy, The Butcher Boy, and invited Keaton to play a small role in the picture. The two hit it off and became a successful onscreen team, starring in a long string of comic hits. Fascinated by the medium of film, Keaton soon began writing their pictures, and assisted in directing… read more