A drifter at an amusement park finds himself both the bodyguard and hit man of a man targeted by a criminal gang.A drifter at an amusement park finds himself both the bodyguard and hit man of a man targeted by a criminal gang.A drifter at an amusement park finds himself both the bodyguard and hit man of a man targeted by a criminal gang.
The opening prologue of The High Sign states "Our hero came from Nowhere- he wasn't going Anywhere and got kicked off Somewhere"; and considering his superhuman stunts he's like an alien who just landed on Earth. This opening prologue reminds me of a statement Roger Ebert made in his review of The General; "(Keaton) seems like a modern visitor to the world of silent clowns"
The 'High Sign' packs in so much humor and gags into its 20 minutes such as his set up with the dog, meat and string (it's hard to explain); it's like something Mr. Bean would come up with. The short also features the earliest example I've seen in film of a recurring gag with the high sign itself, a secret signal between gangsters. Keaton even messes with the audience's expectation for comic effect by having himself walk past a banana peel on the ground only to not slip on it. Likewise, the short's finale is a real "How did they do that?" sequence. The house with its traps and secret hatches is an astounding piece of set design and when all the rooms appear on screen at once which Keaton jumping between them, it reminds me of a 2D video game. I was laughing, in awe and even shocked (when the gangster's neck is closed on the door) all at once. There is even a customer at one point who has quite a resemblance to Charlie Chaplin.
I'll say it now and I'll say it again; the genius of Buster Keaton will never cease to amaze me.
- Oct 20, 2014