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Cops (1922)

Unrated | | Short, Comedy, Family | 11 March 1922 (USA)
A series of mishaps manages to make a young man get chased by a big city's entire police force.


Edward F. Cline (as Eddie Cline), Buster Keaton (as 'Buster' Keaton)


Buster Keaton (as 'Buster' Keaton), Edward F. Cline (as Eddie Cline)

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Complete credited cast:
Buster Keaton ... The Young Man (as 'Buster' Keaton)


Through a series of mistaken identities Buster winds up with a load of furniture in the middle of parade of policemen. An anarchist's bomb lands in his carriage. After lighting his cigarette with it, he tosses it into the ranks of police. When it explodes the police chase him all over town. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


It's handcuffed all the laughs. See more »


Short | Comedy | Family


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

11 March 1922 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cops! See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The scene where Buster Keaton lights his cigarette from the lit fuse of the anarchist's bomb is, knowingly or not, mirroring the darkest day in Harold Lloyd's life. On 24 August 1919 he was posing for gag photographs at the Witzel Studios. He thought it would be funny to light a cigarette from the fuse of a prop anarchist's bomb. Unfortunately the bomb proved to be real, it blew up and he lost his right thumb, index finger and 30% of his palm which forced him to wear a rubber prosthetic during performances ever since. In addition, he was completely blind for three months and half blind for another three. See more »


Opening title: [first line] Love laughs at locksmiths - Houdini
See more »

Crazy Credits

The "THE END" text appears on a tombstone, which has Keaton's signature pork pie hat on top. See more »

Alternate Versions

Some prints, notably those made by Blackhawk Films, are missing the "goat gland" sequence. See more »


Edited into Keaton's Cops (1991) See more »

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User Reviews

A early silent film with great effects.
7 May 2003 | by emma502See all my reviews

Cops a short film by the director Buster Keaton was made in 1922. It addresses social norms and what is expected out of a properly functioning man of society in a comical form. The film follows the narrative form of most films of that era where the plot is laid out for the viewer. The idea of using one's imagination is removed from the film. Instead the viewer is focusing more on the use of special affects and the score to tell the story. Keaton's film defines the quest for everyman, not only of that time but of every era. He addresses the issue of a man being able to support the woman he loves so that he would be able to marry her and have a family; but, in Cops this turns into an adventure and miss opportunity for the main character. There are many visual tricks where camera angles and lighting affect the viewer's interpretation as well as the main character's understanding of the plot and the action that is unfolding upon the screen. The film is one where the score is light and cheery due to the comic nature Keaton uses but the main narrative of the story is in a snowball fashion. One mistake or misunderstanding of a sign or in a conversation with another person of the cast leads to another and another. Yet, the comedic feature of the film is the blind eye that the main character turns towards the mistakes and misunderstandings, he does not grasp that anything wrong has occurred in his day. The snowball affect continues through out the film until the very end where he does not accomplish his goal and does not get the girl.

Keaton tells his story of lost love and constant misunderstandings in a short amount of time. He compresses the action and follows the strict form of introducing the characters, leading to a climax, and then concluding the action all within a half hour. The time element is not a main descriptive tool of the films of this time period as it is today. Instead there is more of a focus on the editing and the ability to entertain an audience with a story that all persons can relate to. Keaton's film is a prime example of a simple story that relates to all persons of a society but a complex film in the sense of editing and special affects. He implements many old and new tricks that film makers have used and developed in the short time that the industry has been growing. He attempts to expand the visual aspect of the film due to the lack of dialog. Keaton's film Cops pushed forward the film industry in a way that no one else could.

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