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The 'High Sign' (1921)

 -  Short | Comedy  -  18 April 1921 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 1,272 users  
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A drifter at an amusement park finds himself both the bodyguard and hit man of a man targeted by a criminal gang.


(as Eddie Cline) , (as 'Buster' Keaton)
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Complete credited cast:
Our Hero (as 'Buster' Keaton)


Buster is thrown off a train near an amusement park. There he gets a job in a shooting gallery run by the Blinking Buzzards mob. Ordered to kill a businessman, he winds up protecting the man and his daughter by outfitting their home with trick devices. Written by Ed Stephan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Comedy


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

18 April 1921 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The 'High Sign'  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Buster Keaton's first independent two-reeler. He didn't consider it to funny enough and had it shelved upon its completion in 1920. It was released the following year when his film output was slowed by a broken leg. See more »


Leader of Buzzards: Do you know the nature of an oath?
Our Hero: Yes. I play golf.
See more »


Referenced in The Popcorn of Doom (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

Mr. Keaton Saves The Day
24 August 2002 | by (Forest Ranch, CA) – See all my reviews


Giving THE "HIGH SIGN" reveals members of the Blinking Buzzards, a nasty gang of ruffians who expect Buster to kill a wealthy old man - the same gentleman who's just hired Buster to be his bodyguard.

Lots of physical comedy in this little film, as Keaton first fools around a shooting arcade and then gets to outwit the Buzzards in the old man's mansion. The ingenious cutaway set, showing at once four rooms on two floors, was sized specifically to Buster's proportions and it's fun watching him rapidly use the trap doors & secret panels while being chased by the villains.

Born into a family of Vaudevillian acrobats, Buster Keaton (1895-1966) mastered physical comedy at a very early age. An association with Fatty Arbuckle led to a series of highly imaginative short subjects and classic, silent feature-length films - all from 1920 to 1928. Writer, director, star & stuntman

  • Buster could do it all and his intuitive genius gave him
almost miraculous knowledge as to the intricacies of film making and of what it took to please an audience. More akin to Fairbanks than Chaplin, Buster's films were full of splendid adventure, exciting derring-do and the most dangerous physical stunts imaginable. His theme of a little man against the world, who triumphs through bravery & ingenuity, dominates his films. Through every calamity & disaster, Buster remained the Great Stone Face, a stoic survivor in a universe gone mad.

In the late 1920's Buster was betrayed by his manager/brother-in-law and his contract was sold to MGM, which proceeded to nearly destroy his career. Teamed initially with Jimmy Durante and eventually allowed small roles in mediocre comedies, Buster was for 35 years consistently given work far beneath his talent. Finally, before lung cancer took him at age 70, he had the satisfaction of knowing that his classic films were being rediscovered. Now, well past his centenary, Buster Keaton is routinely recognized & appreciated as one of cinema's true authentic geniuses. And he knew how to make people laugh...

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