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Hard Luck (1921)

 -  Short | Comedy  -  14 March 1921 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 998 users  
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Strange things ensue after a young man attempts to take his own life.

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Title: Hard Luck (1921)

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Complete credited cast:
Suicidal Boy
Virginia Fox ...
Joe Roberts ...
Lizard Lip Luke


Out of work, Buster tries various ways to commit suicide. At last he tries "poison" from a bottle containing booze. The president of a sporting club speaks of the need for a sportsman to promote the club and drunken Buster gets the job for which he must learn fishing, hunting and riding. Written by Ed Stephan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Comedy

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

14 March 1921 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hard Luck  »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Buster cuts the rope men are using to lift a safe, but after the safe falls, the rope attached to the safe is too short to have reached the men who were pulling on it. See more »


Featured in Silent Clowns: Buster Keaton (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

"I was on a branch of the zoo"
12 May 2010 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

'Hard Luck (1921)' is a very unusual Buster Keaton short, and I'll demonstrate this with a very brief synopsis. Down-on-his-luck Buster, having just lost his love and livelihood, resolves to end his life. This proves more difficult than anticipated. After several incredibly droll failed suicide attempts, Buster escapes the need to kill himself by accidentally getting drunk. He staggers into a meeting of zoo staff, and promptly accepts their challenge to capture the ultra-rare armadillo for the zoo's animal collection ("I was on a branch of the zoo!"). Buster then goes fishing, presumably to catch an armadillo, though that subplot is never mentioned again. Buster then wanders into a country club, where he spots a pretty girl (Virginia Fox) embarking on a fox-hunt, and decides to do the same. Later, an evil fugitive named Lizard Lip Luke (Joe Roberts) takes the girl hostage, and Buster saves the day.

Our hero quickly proposes to the rescued damsel-in-distress, but, on hearing of her current marriage, he decides to do some high-diving into a swimming pool (that, without exaggeration, is all the transition we are afforded between these two plot-points). The film's final gag, believed lost for years, has recently been restored, and allegedly brought Buster Keaton his most rapturous audience response: certainly, it comes completely out of left-field! In fact, so bizarre was this conclusion that it made me rethink my original stance on the film as a whole. Beforehand, I was inclined to view 'Hard Luck' as a collection of random gags clumsily cobbled together into a two-reeler. However, something tells me now that the anarchy of Keaton's storyline was very much intended. This is cinematic insanity in the same vein as 'Hellzapoppin' (1941)' or the Marx Brothers.

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