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Cops More at IMDbPro »

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18 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Keaton and the Chase

Author: Cineanalyst
17 October 2005

This seems to be Buster Keaton's most popular short film. I prefer his films with more cinematically based comedy, such as in "The Playhouse", "The Frozen North" and "Sherlock, Jr.", but "Cops" is a very entertaining little film. It features a large comedic chase--chases, especially involving policemen, being one of the most regularly reoccurring devices in Keaton's oeuvre, especially in his two-reelers. Cops chased Keaton in "Convict 13", "Neighbors", "Hard Luck", "The Goat" and--in an escalated chase very similar to that in "Cops"--"Daydreams". My favorite Keaton chase, by the way, is the chase of the brides in "Seven Chances".

The comedic chase has a long cinema tradition, perhaps dating back to James Williamson's "Stop Thief!" (1901) or "Chinese Laundry Scene" (1895), the latter of which was based on a vaudeville act. Then, there were the Pathé comedies and those of Mack Sennett's Keystone, which were greatly derived from them. Keaton came from vaudeville and worked under one of the premiere early comedians, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, to begin his on screen career, so he was fully immersed in this tradition.

In "Cops", there are some good visual jokes that rely on film technique, such as following a close shot of Keaton behind bars with a reverse long shot that clarifies the opening scene. Keaton's mechanical inventiveness is demonstrated during the horse carriage sequence. And, there's plenty of physical comedy during the great chase finale. Keaton's sense of matured, restrained comedy is also important here, which is perhaps best characterized by his retained stoic expression throughout any chaotic misadventure. "Cops" is rather representative of Keaton's refined sense of what's funny and of his advanced understanding of film-making.

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13 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Keaton's Physical Prowess Was Awesome

Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
11 January 2008

What struck me most about this famous Buster Keaton short was not the overall entertainment value or the big chase scene at the end, but Keaton's amazing strength and physical prowess! This guy was incredible. He must have been an extremely strong, little man, an athlete with muscles like an Olympic gymnast. His feats on the ladder in this film show what I'm talking about here. He didn't use doubles in his films; this guy had not only comedic talent but astonishing physical strength and coordination.

As for the film overall, it was okay but not as super as I had hoped after reading a number of reviews saying this could be Keaton's best. Up to the last quarter of the film, nothing much happened. Virginia Fox, who I like, got second billing but her role was very minor in here.

The last five minutes of this two-reeler involve the famous chase scene where up to 100 cops wind up pursuing our hero. It was that kind of a day for "The Young Man" (Buster) when nothing, but nothing, went right for him!

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

"Get some cops to protect our policeman"

Author: ackstasis from Australia
26 May 2009

Lying in bed with a sore throat, I needed some cheering up. Buster Keaton didn't let me down. 'Cops (1922)' is generally typical of the comedian's two-reelers of the early 1920s, though with a lesser emphasis on the ingenious gadgets exhibited in 'One Week (1920)' and 'The High Sign (1921).' The film opens with Keaton apparently looking through prison bars at his sweetheart, until a clarifying shot reveals that it is merely the girl's front gate {Harold Lloyd seized this visual gag for the opening of 'Safety Last! (1923),' but he had a right to it – one scene in Keaton's film, whether unintentionally or not, resembles the manner in which a prop explosion decapitated Lloyd's hand in 1919}. After convincing himself to become a businessman, Keaton's Young Man goes on to show that he has the worst luck in the world. First, he is bamboozled into purchasing another family's furniture (by Steve Murphy, the pickpocket in Chaplin's 'The Circus (1928)'), and then gets caught up in a police parade, where, ever a victim of circumstance, he is wrongly accused of performing an act of terrorism.

Keaton loved ending his film's with an overblown chase sequence, whether it be the stampeding cattle in 'Go West (1925)' or the stampeding women in 'Seven Chances (1925).' In 'Cops,' our hero is pursued by hundreds of uniformed policemen, swinging batons and tripping over themselves. Here, Keaton really earns his title as the "Great Stone Face." The chaos and confusion of the pursuit is amusing enough, but even more so is Keaton's extraordinary lack of facial expression – he just runs, staring blankly ahead, like a man who expects his problems to dissipate as soon as he wakes up. Also incredible is the performer's physical dexterity, as he flips back and forth over a tall ladder balanced precariously on either side of a fence. Also watch out for Keaton regular Joe Roberts as the Police Chief, and recurring co-star Virginia Fox in a disappointingly brief role as our hero's love interest. Even an aching throat can't dampen the chuckles in this excellent comedy short. If laughter is, indeed, the best medicine, then I should be better by the morning.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Keystone Kops to the Nth degree!

Author: Polaris_DiB from United States
3 March 2006

We just don't have as much of this light, albeit subversive humor anymore. So in order to catch a new generation up, show 'em this short. It's packed with about as much running, bumbling cops as possible.

Keaton plays a man trying to become a business man to, you guessed it, win the affections of the beautiful young woman. Unfortunately, a series of misunderstandings and mishaps frames him as a bomb-yielding terrorist, and a parade (literally) of cops eager to hunt him down.

The humor is massive... if you'll excuse the pun. This short makes a delightful little companion piece to Seven Chances, only replacing the tide of pursuing brides-to-be with the just as eager and possibly more dangerous avalanche of an entire city's police force (of which Keaton manages to suitably tie up and lock down, of course).

It's known as one of his strongest shorts, and I must put my vote in the mix (even though I think The playhouse is his strongest short of all).


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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Keaton is timeless

Author: Chromium_five from the wild frontier
6 April 2009

I was fortunate enough to receive free tickets to a Buster Keaton film festival, and it was a surprise to see the 1000-seat theater so thoroughly packed that the organizers were actually turning people away. That Keaton is STILL able to draw these types of crowds is proof of his genius. This was my favorite film of the bunch, as it abandons any plot in favor of total lunacy. The opening scenes are slow-paced and lead us to believe that the bulk of the movie will consist of Keaton trying to deliver some furniture, but things take a turn for the insane when he accidentally bombs a police parade (!) and finds literally hundreds of cops chasing him through the streets. The audience has barely had a chance to register what has happened when he's avoiding the masses of cops in a series of death-defying stunts done at lightning speed. Already in one of his first films, Keaton outdoes the entire Keystone Kops series and sets the bar for cop-based comedy, only being surpassed in scope, so far as I know, 60 years later by "The Blues Brothers."

What I can't understand is why no one makes movies like this anymore. There is the very occasional attempt to revive them (like the aforementioned "Blues Brothers"), but for the most part, this sort of no-holds-barred slapstick appears to be a dead genre. It's not a question of being aged; I think modern-day audiences would LOVE to see more of this stuff, but studios are apparently uninterested. Until some sort of comedy renaissance happens, we'll have to rely on Keaton to keep selling out seats.

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8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Keaton Distilled

Author: prionboy ( from USA
21 January 2000

Arguably Buster Keaton's finest two-reeler, Cops is the perfect distillation of the appeal of this gifted artist. One cannot help but feel great sympathy for the lead character, all the while laughing at his unfortunate circumstances. Yet in the midst of being suckered out of his (stolen) fortune and finding himself wrongly suspected of an act of terrorism, Buster never for a minute expresses a hint of self pity. He brilliantly deals with the circumstances as they unfold while his face exudes a calmness and confidence that seem quite contradictory to the madness that surrounds him. See how he calmly handles finding himself in the middle of a giant parade of police officers and how he nonchalantly lights his cigarette with a terrorist's bomb. The audience breathlessly tries to keep up with Keaton as he navigates an obstacle course strewn with hundreds of well-choreographed cops. With impeccable timing he seems to improvise his way through it using the many tools available to him, most notably his quick wit. Every second of this film is wonderfully entertaining. The ending is typical Keaton - satisfying and very funny. This is the perfect introduction to Buster Keaton and silent films in general.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Buster's Police Encounter

Author: lugonian from Kissimmee, Florida
24 September 2008

COPS (First National, 1922), written and directed by Buster Keaton and Eddie Cline, presents deadpan comedian Buster Keaton in one of his most entertaining and true classic comedy shorts ever produced for the silent screen. Not quite a tribute to the police force in general, COPS is somewhat reminiscent to the Mack Sennett day of "Keystone Kops" that starts off pure and simple, building up to a great big police chase after poor innocent Buster.

Although famed magician Harry Houdini is not in this photo-play, he gets to have his quote, "Love laughs at locksmiths" as its opening title. Next scene introduces Buster in traditional pork-pie hat as a hapless failure who attempts to make good as a successful businessman for the sake of the girl (Virginia Fox) he hopes to marry. Through no fault of his own, trouble always seems to follow him wherever he goes. After finding a wallet on the street, he attempts to return it to its rightful owner (Joe Roberts) having taken off in a taxi. By the time the owner realizes his wallet is gone, he has the driver turn back. He retrieves the wallet but finds the money gone, and Buster as well, who has taken off in the man's taxi. Later spotted by a con-man, Buster is duped to buying his furniture by giving him a sob story about being evicted when in fact the furniture rightfully belongs to a family man about to move to a new location. Mistaken as the mover, Buster has the man's possessions placed on a horse cart and given the address (4 Flushing Place) where his things are to be sent. After having some horse trouble, Buster unwittingly makes the wrong turn on the street where the annual Policeman's Day Parade is taking place. Trouble lurks, leading to a confusion and a chase around the city between Buster and the thousands of men in blue ("Get some cops to protect our policemen"), particularly one who happens to be the owner of the misplaced furniture.

Next to Keaton's earlier effort, ONE WEEK (1920), COPS is a masterpiece that continues to generate laughter. The plot is slight, and like his contemporary Charlie Chaplin, the gags are generous, carefully planned, timed and staged, making this two-reeler (20 minute) comedy move at a very fast pace. Robert Youngson, producer of great compilation films of THE GOLDEN AGE OF COMEDY (1957) and DAYS OF THRILLS AND LAUGHTER (1961), used highlights of COPS into his excellent presentation of WHEN COMEDY WAS KING (1960). During the 1970s, COPS turned up occasionally on public television, notably in "The Silent Comedy Film Festival" that aired on WNET, Channel 13 in New York City around 1973, accompanied by piano score. COPS was later used for its concluding 20 minutes to another PBS series, "Sprockets" in the 1980s, following its presentation of Buster Keaton's feature length comedy, STEAMBOAT BILL Jr. (1928). The print of COPS used in "Sprockets," included a different piano accompaniment than the one heard in the 1970s, but missing few minutes of footage midway as Buster takes his slow moving horse to Dr. Smith Goat Glan Specialist to later come out in full speed. Also in the 1980s, known as the dawn of home video, a complete VHS copy of COPS became available through Blackhawk Films (The Killian Collection) with organ score by Gaylord Carter, double featured with another Keaton's short, THE BLACKSMITH (1922).

COPS is one of those comedies that would make a great introduction of Keaton's work to film students. Could a film like COPS ever lose its appeal? The answer is yes, though through no fault of Keaton nor the movie itself. What could make COPS unbearable to sit through would be to have it accompanied by poor music score. While Turner Classic Movies holds a great record for its dedication of motion picture history, ranging from restoring prints and resurrecting long forgotten silent movies with new scores, some great, others satisfactory, COPS, along with other Keaton silents on TCM, have sadly become the victim of very poor scoring, taking away Keaton's achievement to great comedy. Had Keaton's films been fortunate as the Harold Lloyd comedies to have the great scoring by Robert Israel, then, no doubt about it, COPS would be tops. (****)

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Buster's finest short

Author: charles_hardin_holley from Lubbock, Texas, USA
29 April 2007

Cops is perhaps Buster's best short. It's my favorite, at any rate, and that's saying something, because as great as many of his features from the 20s were, his two-reelers were probably his best work. In them he perfected the least sentimental of his personas: an opportunistic, somewhat roguish chap, who doesn't mind getting into a scrape over a girl or a bit of a scam, but who usually manages to get out of it with his wit, athleticism and charm.

Keaton invented so much of cinema as we know it today, and rarely gets credit for it, so you really should seek out and watch as much of his pictures from the 1920s as you can.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

David Jeffers for Tablet SIFFblog

Author: rdjeffers from Rockaway Beach, OR
19 September 2005

Monday September 19, 2005 7:00pm The Seattle Paramount Theater

"Get some cops to protect our policemen!"

Cops is a symphony of misunderstanding, beginning with a stolen wallet and ending with a thousand men in blue chasing Buster through the streets. In between, he makes off with a wagonload of furniture he has unknowingly stolen, pulled by a crazy old horse with false teeth. Keaton ends up bombing a police parade and the chase is on! He finds himself riding an enormous teeter-totter then snatching hold of a passing car to make his escape. Virginia Fox, a Keaton favorite, proclaims "I won't marry you until you become a big business man." The con man, played by Steve Murphy, was also featured as a pickpocket in Chaplin's "The Circus" six years later. And who is this oddly familiar old dog macking down on Buster's hand?

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Film Noir and Keaton at his Existential Best

Author: Georgette Mattel from Hudson Valley, NY
23 November 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For me "Cops" is a Film Noir before the term was even created. Although not visually "dark" "Cops" certainly follows it's theme that working hard and doing good doesn't always lead to a happy ending; neither should you count on the "guardians of society" to help you - or be on your side for that matter. Basically, you're on your own. This theme starts out immediately with the quote from Houdini "Love laughs at Locksmiths" this wonderfully romantic idea that love should not be deterred by obstacles is squashed in the opening scene. Keaton appears to be in prison - but he's really outside the elaborate gates of his girlfriend's home who rejects him because he's not financially successful. while also a funny gag, the bars are a metaphor that there are all kinds of crimes and all kinds of prisons in this world. This rejection is taken as a challenge by Keaton and in most films this would be the start of an upward path to success. In "Cops" it's the opposite; no matter how much he tries to succeed, it just doesn't work (although you can argue that his startomg method may not have been the best) and leads Keaton on a path towards ruin. The highly cynical and fatalistic theme of "Cops" has generally been viewed as Keaton's reaction to what was happening to his friend Roscoe Arbuckle who also put his faith in the judicial system, the press,the Hollywood moguls, and even his fans with tragic results. The American Dream, doesn't work, the game is skewed.The original belief that hard work and talent bring success ( something that Keaton could certainly attest to ) was being eclipsed by the realization that there were those who were always out for the con and trying to make a buck without really working. Almost a century later, this theme remains remarkably current where "the smartest guys in the room" seem to always win.

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