Go West (1925) Poster

(1925)

User Reviews

Review this title
26 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
7/10
decent film, but Keaton did do better
MartinHafer24 April 2006
If you have never seen a Buster Keaton film, I don't recommend you see this one--as it may fail to impress you. While it's a decent film, STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. and THE GENERAL are better Keaton efforts.

First, I should mention I saw this videotape as marketed by KINO VIDEO. While the print in this case is great for a silent-era film, I was surprised that I hated the sound track so much. I'm not sure if it was originally intended for this movie--if it was, don't blame KINO. However, I doubt this because the tracks are Jazz and I can't see why anyone would pair this with a modern cowboy flick! Also, towards the end and on the accompanying Keaton shorts, there is significant slowdown--producing a very muddled sound track and choppy action.

The movie itself is cute. Keaton goes west for excitement and along the way he meets and falls in love with a cow--no, it's NOT that sort of love, but more like the love of a boy and his dog. A decent film but a bit slow and not as full of humor as some of his other films.
4 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
It was a man and his cow
TheLittleSongbird22 November 2019
Have always had great admiration for Buster Keaton, one of the funniest, boldest and most important comedy geniuses of his time and to exist. His best work was hilarious, and not only is there very few people in comedy at the time and since as jaw-droppingly daring but he was one of not many, and possibly the best at it, to make deadpan work. There really were few people like him before, during and since, despite loving comedy of all decades and most kinds of styles Keaton was a true original.

'Go West' is not one of Keaton's best and is very rarely considered as such, there is much funnier, more inventive, more daring work of his from before as well as since. It is still though an amusing and charming watch, and does not deserve to be near-forgotten. While 'Go West' may not be Keaton on top form, it is one of his more under-appreciated efforts and shouldn't be dismissed because it's somewhat of a change of pace and not what one usually expects from Keaton.

It is best forgetting the story, as there is not much of one and it could have gotten going quicker with the first portion being a touch too on the slow side.

On the physical side of things, there could have been more of it and by Keaton, whose physical comedy was at his best very ahead of the time and bold, standards, some of it is a touch subdued.

However, 'Go West' is well shot and designed with the clever last shot standing out. The gags are always amusing though never quite reaching hilarious level, and the more physical elements are deftly timed and nimble, if not what one calls daring. It is silly at times but never played too broadly and the silliness doesn't go overboard.

There is not just comedy. It was actually nice to see a gentler tone and the film has a lot of heart and charm, some touching moments here without mawkishness. Keaton wasn't nicknamed "The Great Stone Face" for nothing, deadpan is not an easy way of acting to nail but Keaton was a master of this because he made it amusing and nuanced.

Concluding, not my definition of classic Keaton but under-appreciated and a lovely watch. 7.5/10
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
(Go west) where the skies are blue
Prismark1010 November 2018
Buster Keaton is penniless and friendless. He cannot get a job and somehow becomes a cowhand befriending brown eyes the cow.

To stop the ranch owner from ruin Buster takes the cattle through the streets of LA and to the cattle market.

This is a breezy fun Buster Keaton silent. There are plenty of inventive stuff such as Buster and the barrels on the train which roll out.

I watched this with my son who has never seen Buster Keaton before and he certainly enjoyed watching it.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Buster And His Bovine - Not A Bad Film
ccthemovieman-11 October 2006
No, as most critics have said, this isn't one of Buster Keaton's better feature films, but it's not bad and surely it is better than what you might have read in some critic's book. It has its moments and is a bit different in way, if you consider a man and cow falling in love with each other! (This should be a "cult classic!")

Buster heeds the advice, "Go West, Young Man, Go West," and winds up out in the middle of nowhere after crawling inside a barrel and then the barrel falling out of a train.

He winds up taking discarded cowboy clothes and trying his hand at that profession but, of course, has no clue even how to ride a horse. His only accomplishment is taking a stone out of a cow's hoof. The cow is so grateful, it follows Buster around the rest of the movie and the two become quite attached.

After some low-key attempts at several projects, Buster winds up - I am really condensing this - back on a train with the cattle hoping to be sold so that the almost-destitute boss can get enough money to save his ranch. The train is robbed, the cattle derailed and the herd winds up in the middle of a big city!

That's the real fun part of the film, as it is in so many silent comedies. The adventures of seeing a herd of cattle going down the main city streets and then into barbershops, Turkish baths, Ladies Department Stores, etc., is very funny.

The ending was very clever and final punch-line not what the viewers anticipate. All in all, not a lot of laugh-out-loud scenes but a decent Keaton silent film and definitely worth a watch. I am glad most of the reviewers here appreciated this movie.
16 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Milking Friendship
wes-connors5 July 2016
Indiana transient Buster Keaton (as Homer Holiday) is unable to make friends or hold a job. Even dogs walk away when he pets them. Trampled and downtrodden, Mr. Keaton decides to "Go West" and start a new life. He hops a train. He hops a horse. Keaton finds the western life more agreeable and begins working as a ranch-hand. His first job is to milk a cow named Brown Eyes. Buster puts the pail in the right place but expects the milk to pour out, unassisted. Despite this beginning, Buster and Brown Eyes bond. Their scenes together are sweet, with the cow allowing us to see a rarer side of Keaton's stock character. As a love interest, she functions better than female co-stars like Kathleen Myers...

A memorable scene without Brown Eyes involves Keaton at the typical western card table poking fun at the classic line, "When you call me that, smile" (from 1902's "The Virginian"). The only way a stone-faced Keaton can "smile" is by employing the method used by Lillian Gish in D.W. Griffith's "Broken Blossoms" (1919). In a scene wearing that much eye make-up, Keaton is wise not to smile. Also worth catching is Keaton dressed as the Devil leading a herd of cattle through the streets of Los Angeles. "Some people travel through life making friends where ever they go, while others just travel through life," a prelude advises. This isn't the best of Keaton's great 1920s streak of classics, but it may be the friendliest.

******* Go West (10/25/1925) Buster Keaton ~ Buster Keaton, Kathleen Myers, Howard Truesdale, Ray Thompson
2 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Above-Average Keaton Laffer but Not A Classic
zardoz-1328 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Buster Keaton's tenderfoot sagebrusher "Go West" wasn't the first comedy about a fish-out-of-water as some commentators have claimed. Actually, credit for the first belongs to Harry Beaumont's "Go West, Young Man" (1918) with Tom Moore. Many memorable westerns about tenderfeet would appear in the wake of Beaumont's dust: Keaton's "Go West" (1925), the Marx Brothers' "Go West," Laurel & Hardy's "Way out West," and Bob Hope's "Paleface" and "Son of Paleface." Meantime, Keaton's 75-minute silent comedy depicts our hero's efforts to make something of him. Buster plays a down-on-his-luck wage earner who has no luck earning wages. According to the opening credits, Buster plays a guy named Friendless. He lives somewhere in the Midwest and he packs up all his belongings puts them on a brass bed and drags them off to the general store where he sells them for $1.65 and winds up spending $1.60 to pay for some odd items that he left in a dresser drawer and some meat. A girl collecting for a charity spots the lone nickel in the palm of his hand and appropriates it. Ultimately, Keaton goes to work on a ranch posing as a ranch hand. When rival ranchers try to thwart the ranch from selling their beef on the market, Friendless saves the day. Moreover, he saves a milk cow named Brown Eyes that saved his life out in the desert when a steer was set on goring him. This amusing comedy doesn't demonstrate Keaton at his best, but it contains several good gags, one of which involves him leading a herd of cattlemen through Pasadena dressed up in a devil's costume. Early on, our misguided protagonist learns that the only way to get cattle to budge is to wave something red at them. When the ranch owner threatens to sell Brown Eyes, Friendless puts up a fight and eventually joins her on the train ride to the stockyards. A rival rancher scares all of the rancher's cowhands, but Keaton sticks around and winds up seeing to it that the steers are delivered to market. The ASPCA would love this movie because Friendless saves Brown Eyes.
0 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Buster's paired with a cow?
HotToastyRag17 January 2019
If you liked City Slickers, and in particular Billy Crystal's bond with Norman the cow, check out the silent film Go West, starring Buster Keaton. It's not the same story, but the main character is a city slicker who has no idea how to survive as a cowboy. He gets a job as a ranch hand and bumbles his way through lassos, mounting a horse, herding cattle, dressing the part, and making friends with real cowboys. Every step of the process is difficult, which is why it's a comedy!

Where's the love story, you ask? If you know your Buster Keaton movies, you know he always falls in love, usually at first sight. If you don't know his movies, this one is cute but not the best one to start with, so check out The Cameraman first. Go West is very different for Buster, since his leading lady isn't even human-it's Brown Eyes the cow! This might be the only feature-length Buster Keaton movie he starred in where he's not actively courting someone. Don't worry, though. There's only been one Buster Keaton movie-yes, I've seen all of them-where he doesn't get the girl, and if you rent this comedic western, you won't be disappointed.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Buster and his bovine
tieman647 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Written, directed by and staring Buster Keaton, "Go West" is a 1925 silent comedy. One of Keaton's early classics, the film finds our funny-man selling all his possessions and heading off to America's Western frontier. Friendless and broke, he then tries to raise his social standing.

Though but a series of slapstick or vaudeville routines, "Go West" also plays well as social satire. Once his character arrives at a cattle ranch in Los Angeles, Keaton's film becomes increasingly glum. Here the Land of Opportunity is presented as a slaughterhouse which seduces and crushes, and Keaton is left with but one friend, a sweet cow whom he must kill if he hopes to assuage hunger.

Keaton's films often feature elaborate chase sequences. This one ends with a herd of cattle chasing a herd of police chasing Keaton dressed up in a devil's costume. Would modern audience care? Maybe not. But whilst silent comedies are treated as a dead art form by many, babies seem to love them. Go on, try it. Keaton and Charlie Chaplin flicks are like LSD for toddlers.

7.9/10 – See "Duck Soup".
0 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Enjoyable Change-of-Pace From Keaton
Snow Leopard30 July 2001
"Go West" is an enjoyable change-of-pace from Keaton. It has a creative story that enables Buster to demonstrate some different acting skills, while still having plenty of his trademark slapstick, chases, and stunts, especially in the last half of the film. It's not one of his best-remembered films today, largely because it is rather old-fashioned and sometimes slow, but it has a great many merits for those who enjoy silent comedies.

Buster's character is down on his luck, and decides to head west. He winds up on a ranch, working as a cowhand. As he tries rather ineffectively to learn the trade, he becomes attached to a particular cow, 'Brown Eyes'. While trying to protect Brown Eyes from harm, he is caught in the middle of the desperate attempts of the rancher and the rancher's daughter to save their business. Keaton is very good in evoking sympathy for his character while still being amusing, and the story is touching at times while remaining pleasantly silly at others. There are times when it does move pretty slowly, but it is always pleasant to watch.

The film would be well worth seeing for the last portion alone. Everything comes together in a madcap stampede sequence that is extremely funny and that contains a lot of inventive gags. It's classic Keaton, and a great way to top off a rather different story.

If you are a fan of Buster or of silent comedy in general, make sure to give this one a try. It's not the kind of film that could be expected to attract a wide audience today, but it's a pleasant and enjoyable film, and you might like it as much as those of us on this page have enjoyed it.
23 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Buster Keaton turns Western genre into comedy for a social message which doesn't conclude the point in the end.
SAMTHEBESTEST12 April 2021
Go West (1925) : Brief Review -

Buster Keaton turns Western genre into comedy for a social message which doesn't conclude the point in the end. Buster Keaton was never known from making socially important or thoughtful films but with this film it seemed like he tried but then forget to end it accordingly. Keaton portrays Friendless, who travels west to try to make his fortune. Once there, he tries his hand at bronco-busting, cattle wrangling and dairy farming, eventually forming a bond with a cow named "Brown Eyes." Eventually he finds himself leading a herd of cattle through Los Angeles and it creates a rampage in the town. Well, this film was actually a great chance to slap that cow-slaughtering tradition but i don't know why he concluded it by saving just one and letting others die. I don't know if it is prohibited in American countries or not, but me being an Indian would have loved to see Cow-saving scenario as Cow is a holy pet here in my country. Anyways, i don't want to get in cultural fights of two countries with this Cow eschew issue so let's forget it. So, Keaton does less of tumbling stuff and stays more focused to the storyline this time. That's underwhelming you know. However, he kept me hooked with animal friendly surroundings and human driven elements and that's why i am calling Go West a very good film overall. That western culture, cowboys get-up, steers slaughtering and sort of family bonding of those men was pleasant and the only lady between them Kathleen Myers looked cute. Keaton showing the bonding of a human and an animal was the best part. Excluding that unreasonable conclusion part and for that the writing, i don't have any other complaints so Go West makes a fine watch even in the worst case. Rather, i would say it makes a nice film for the time with this unexplored Western theme. Overall, Very Good but could have been much better.

RATING - 7/10*

By - #samthebestest.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
It's not comedy!
RodrigAndrisan3 October 2021
It's a love story between a man and a cow. Impressive footage with the cow that loves the character played by Buster Keaton and the whole herd of cattle all over the city.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Buster and the Cow!
bsmith555220 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
"Go West" is largely considered to be one of Buster Keaton's weaker features.

The plot has Buster, billed as "Friendless" leaving his hometown to seek his fortunes elsewhere. First he hops aboard a freight train bound for New York, but finds the city two crowded and overwhelming. (The scenes in a bustling 1925 New York were enlightening). Next he boards a freight train headed west. After tumbling off the train in a barrel, he winds up in the middle of nowhere. He then stumbles upon the Diamond Ranch where the owner (Howard Truesdale) gives him a job. And oh yeah, the rancher has a comely young daughter (Kathleen Myers) with whom we expect Buster to become involved with.

Buster fumbles about the ranch until he rescues a cow (Little Brown Eyes) who has a stone wedged in her hoof. Therein begins the "love story" of the film as the two become inseparable. The rancher plans to move 1,000 head of cattle to market early in order to save his ranch. A competing rancher vows to stop him. The train carrying the cattle is ambushed by the competing rancher and sent on its way without an engineer. Buster, who has been hiding in a box car protecting Little Brown Eyes, springs into action and...........................

I really thought the Buster/cow relationship detracted from the comedy. It really was ill advised. The mess hall scenes where Buster gets there too late were duplicated unnecessarily. His "revenge" was telegraphed and wasn't really funny. What does work is the cattle stampede through Los Angeles where the cattle run amok through the various stores and shops. There are some really funny bits here.

All in all "Go West" was not what I expected. I thought that there would be more of a spoof of the "B" westerns of the day with saloons, stagecoaches, good guys, bad guys et al. Still, there is enough to enjoy, after all it IS a Buster Keaton film.
0 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Keaton takes on 1000 cattle
ackstasis1 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Though 'Go West (1925)' does not contain much of the technical wizardry and daredevil stunt-work that makes Busters Keaton's films so amazingly entertaining, it does contain a massive amount of heart, and that's just a different reason to watch it. Written and directed by Keaton himself (with writing assistance from Lex Neal and a scenario by Raymond Cannon), the film focuses on the cowboy exploits of a young, friendless man who finds the hustle-and-bustle of the city too much for him, and so ships out west in search of a new life. Though Keaton knowingly sets up the film to be a story of budding romance between himself and a beautiful girl (Kathleen Myers), it is here that tale takes a unique turn. While on the cattle ranch, Keaton falls in love with an adorable young cow named Brown Eyes, who affectionately follows him around wherever he goes. While human friendships have offered him little, in Brown Eyes Keaton finds a companion for life, and he tries everything in his attempts to stop the cow from being slaughtered.

The final twenty minutes of the film contains one of Keaton's most ambitious set-pieces {and this certainly says a lot}, as he releases 1000 cattle to stampede through the streets of Los Angeles. Though some of the gags do go a bit over-the-top, there is an incredible energy in the sequence in which Keaton – dressed in a red devil suit to attract the cows' attention – sprints feverishly down the busy road, hundreds of bovine in tow, and an entire squad of panicked policemen clutching at his costume's dragging tail. The film's final joke is a classic one: the thankful ranch owner (Howard Truesdale) offers Keaton absolutely anything he wants in return for delivering the cattle and averting financial ruin. Keaton meekly declares "I want her," and casts his finger backwards in the direction of the man's pretty daughter. We are momentarily shocked at our hero's unexpected arrogance, but then Keaton plods off behind a wall and returns with Brown Eyes on a leash, and we understand that it had all been an amusing misunderstanding. Thus ends the most unusual love story of the silent era.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
A boy and his bovine
MissSimonetta7 August 2014
Buster Keaton is often characterized as an unemotional filmmaker whose face lakes expression and whose films lack heart. I call bull on this. In recent years, Keaton's nickname "The Great Stone Face" has been challenged by critics and fans who appreciate his subtle and far from heartless performances. And the idea that his films have no emotional depth has been questioned as well. If any film could answer that question, then Go West (1925) would be it.

GW is the story of a lonely young man who gets a job as a farm hand and befriends a cow after she saves him from a rampaging bull. Their relationship is sweet but never cloying, and Keaton makes sure to mock plot elements meant to evoke cheap pathos (ex. Keaton goes to pet a dog and he is literally such an outcast that even the mutt walks away from him).

It's not a masterpiece, but it is a very sweet movie and one that is worth the hour plus running time.
6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Tenderfoot Befriends Tenderloin
slokes22 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Buster Keaton's comedies seem to hold their value with film lovers precisely because the man steps away from sentiment in his movies like it was another falling house front. So I suppose one has to credit his willingness to work away from his comfort zone when he took on the notion of playing the audience's heartstrings so directly as he does here.

The sentimental stuff plays very well; it's actually the crux of "Go West's" enjoyment and lasting success. Here, it is the comedy, particularly the physical comedy that was Keaton's stock-in-trade, that seems rushed and suspect.

Keaton's character, called "Friendless" in the opening credits, is a poor and lonely Indianian at odds with life. "Some people travel through life making friends where ever {sic} they go," the opening card tells us, "while others just travel through life."

Friendless seems on such a journey when fate lands him on a ranch where the fair-if-unsentimental owner (Howard Truesdale) readies his herd of cows for market. Friendless drifts about aimlessly, not sure how to ride a mule or get a bull into a pen, but finds his way after helping a cow named Brown Eyes who has a rock caught in her hoof. She looks after him in turn. Soon the two are inseparable, but then the slaughterhouse beckons, and Friendless must find a way to save his new pal.

If you are trying to go veggie or just kick a cheeseburger habit, "Go West" is a film for you. Brown Eyes proves a perfect film companion for the Great Stone Face, having an arrestingly blank visage herself and a similar ability to be at the right place at the right time. While Buster himself is endearingly gormless, introducing himself to the ranch owner with the line: "Do you need any cowboys today?", Brown Eyes looks after him in clever ways, like moving her body in front of a bull charging at an unaware Buster's upturned butt. They are a fun pair.

The comedy in this film is what leaves me less won over. I want to like this film, but the gags are too strained and frenetic for classic Keaton work. One New York sidewalk scene early on shows Friendless being run over by a stampeding throng, for no apparent reason except to give audiences some expected laughs. On a train going west, Buster hides in a barrel for some reason, and rolls down a sandbank to no real purpose except to move on to the next scene.

One early ranch episode where Buster tries to milk a cow by putting a pail under her and waiting for the milk to pour out was the movie's biggest laugh-getter according to a 1925 New York Times review by Mordaunt Hall. Today, it's hard to imagine such a reaction to a long shot of Friendless adopting a "Thinker" pose while waiting for that milk.

The big rally at the end of the film has Friendless leading a herd of cattle through Los Angeles, while people in the crowd react as if under zombie attack. It is forced and overbaked stuff, even if the payoff at the end manages to be quite nifty. Much better are other bits that sprinkle the movie, especially the final exchange between Friendless and the rancher that makes for "Go West's" big takeaway moment, and proof director Keaton's huge investment in the Brown Eyes storyline was worth his atypically sentimental approach.

In the end, you get a decent story, some fun moments, and a rare chance to see Buster playing against his stiff on-screen persona to good comic effect. You don't have to be Chaplin to make sentiment work in comedy. Still, when it's over, you are glad it's an experiment Keaton never tried again.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Need any good cowboys today?
Mike-7646 May 2003
A young man named Friendless decides to head east when his luck runs out. After nearly getting trampled by an average New York pedestrian crowd, Friendless takes Horace Greeley's advice and heads west via rail. Friendless accidently is sent off the train, he ends up at an Arizona ranch, where the owner gives him a job as a hand. Soon there he meets his first friend, a cow named Brown Eyes. When Brown Eyes is to be taken with the rest of the herd for the slaughterhouse, Friendless goes with Brown Eyes to prevent her turning into a steak dinner, until a rival ranch holds up the train, and Friendless ends up driving the entire herd through the busy 1920's streets of Los Angeles to market. This Keaton film differs from the other's he made in the 1920's, where it is more of a drama, and sacrificing the Keaton routine of the young man who unwillingly is called to do the extraordinary things, in a sense a Chaplin film. There are a few good sight gags though (Buster waiting for a cow to give milk, his failures to get to the dinner table on time), but the scenes with Brown Eyes are the movie. Rating- 7.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
High Steaks
mmallon417 July 2021
Warning: Spoilers
Go West could be seen as Buster Keaton's reaction to Charlie Chaplin's The Kid but with the child in question being replaced by none other than a cow in this contemporary era western. The pathos laden film is Keaton's most innocent picture and one that really tugs the heartstrings in which Friendless (Keaton), an aimless drifter who doesn't fit in anywhere finds himself working at a ranch where he befriends Brown Eyes, a dairy cow who is tossed in with the beef herd because of her inability to give milk.

Brown Eyes (played by the cow of the same name) is cinema's first and last bovine movie star (at least to my knowledge). Keaton shares a natural rapport with the animal and the chemistry between the two does come off on-screen. There is a human female in the story (Kathleen Myers) but Brown Eyes is the only woman who wins Friendless' heart. I do have to ask though is Friendless an early example of a vegetarian since I do personally hold the standard that I can't become attached to an animal if I eat others in its species. Then again Friendless takes no issue with the rest of the herd going to the slaughterhouse. The naivety and childlike mentality Friendless holds is best portrayed when he discovers Brown Eyes is to be sent to the slaughterhouse along with the other bovine - like a child who has only just discovered there is no Santa Clause. It's hard not to get a little teary-eyed when man and his cow are separated.

One of the most memorable gags in Go West is the 3-part running gag involving Friendless sitting down at the dinner table just as the other men get up - one of those gags that's funny even when you know how it's going to play out. The gag's third act ends beautifully when Friendless rushes to the table and manages to finish his meal just as the other men sit down, but just look at the face on Keaton as he leaves the table - so elegant and satisfied. The other alpha males on the ranch barely even notice Friendless as they all tower above him, likewise throughout Go West, Friendless is only able to come into possession of a tiny gun, could there be phallic symbolism with this or am I looking into it too much?

Go West features some gorgeous western scenery and landscapes with that hazy shimmer of heat, along with the early adoption of deep focus cinematography and the use of painted backdrops which impressively blend into the real-world background. The climax of Go West involves Friendless trying to navigate herds of cattle through the streets of Los Angeles to be sold at market. The herded insanity itself is impressive considering the logistics that must have gone into filming such a sequence but also the simple sight involving huge herds of cows walking through an urban metropolis is a funny image in itself. Move over John Wayne in Red River, Buster Keaton shows us how to rustle up some cattle!
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Funny film with a slight story
timmy_50130 May 2010
After trading all his belongings for a large sandwich, Keaton's nameless character hops on a train with the intent of leaving his small town for the big city. He quickly realizes that city life is no better for him as he's literally trampled underfoot by a crowd of people and jumps on the train again, this time with the intention of seeking his fortune as so many did in the west. He falls out near a large cattle ranch and manages to secure work there.

Of course he's quite unsuited for the ranch lifestyle as well. He befriends a cow that's nearly as unwanted as he is and spends most of his time on the ranch protecting his bovine protégé. All is not well at the ranch, however, as the proprietor must sell his herd right away or risk losing his business. Keaton's character accompanies the cows on their train ride and ends up attempting to drive the whole lot of them to the slaughterhouse all by himself. This is fraught with complication and the cattle run riot through the streets (and buildings!) of Los Angeles in an exciting set piece that includes Keaton dressing up in a red devil costume complete with horns and a tail.

The film is interesting in that it focuses on an area of Western life that gets less attention: the day to day lifestyle of ranchers and their hands. The first half of the film is full of humorous scenes that set up the character and the situation and the later half of the film has the most laughs as Keaton navigates his way through a series of wild cow in the city scenarios. The story is a bit on the slight side but the comedy works as well as always. This film is proof that even a minor work from a legend like Keaton is still near great.
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
A surprising treasure
Chrissie7 September 2009
Though it's not a masterwork like "The General", "Go West" perhaps has more heart than any other Keaton film.

"Friendless" Buster, after being literally downtrodden in the big city, heads West, where he finds friendship in the most unlikely of leading ladies: an equally forsaken little cow named Brown Eyes. Keaton manages to make this implausible relationship believable, which it has to be, since the logic of the film hinges on it. Pulling off this cinematic magic displays a new and surprising side of Keaton's virtuosity as an actor and director.

I'd not recommend "Go West" as a starter film for those not already familiar with Buster Keaton, but it's a delightful, poignant and funny piece of work.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Gentle, off-beat satire of movie westerns and sentimentality
imogensara_smith7 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
There is a fundamental disagreement about Go West, between those who see it as Keaton's only sentimental movie, and those who think Buster is satirizing sentimentality. I'm in the latter group. Keaton's satire is so subtle, and so devoid of meanness, that people easily miss it—but I'm convinced he's playing the whole opening sequence with tongue firmly in cheek. His character, "Friendless," is just a shade too pathetic to take seriously; even a dog turns away coldly when he tries to pat it. Buster is not appealing for pity here, he's getting in a gentle dig at other performers (particularly, perhaps, one whose initials were C.C.) who did.

In a later scene, mooning over a girl who won't give him the time of day, Buster leans wistfully against the edge of a well. His elbow knocks the bucket into the well, the rope unspools and the handle, spinning, clunks him smartly on the head. Don't feel sorry for me, he is saying: laugh at me. Buster's screen character is a stoic (as he was off-screen), and his sense of humor is part of his stoicism. His insistence on seeing the comedy even in painful and humiliating situations is the inexhaustible source of his dignity.

Buster had a natural rapport with animals. He shares their mute patience: "They do not sweat and whine about their condition," as Walt Whitman wrote, and neither did he. The heart of Go West is the touching—though faintly ridiculous—friendship between Friendless and Brown Eyes, a pretty little Holstein cow who is ostracized by other cows on the ranch where Friendless works as a hand. Buster trained Brown Eyes himself, and she follows him around with endearing, dopey devotion. In one of the film's best sight gags, he ties a pair of antlers on her head so that she can defend herself against horned steer. She looks like a seriously overweight reindeer. The plot is driven by Friendless's efforts to save Brown Eyes from being sent to the slaughterhouse with the rest of the cattle, and to save his employer from financial ruin. He shows some interest in his employer's attractive daughter, but not a whole lot; poor Kathleen Myers is left with little to do, and looks a bit miffed at playing second fiddle to a cow.

Go West is easily Keaton's oddest film, and it's not entirely successful. There's a limit to how much comedy you can get out of cows. Where Buster got the idea of making a movie that centers around cattle I don't know (though I do think "Brown Eyes" is a joke about the devoted, cow-eyed leading ladies featured by some other comedians.) But once he got an idea, Buster always explored it thoroughly and carried it as far as it would go. He dreamed up a promising finale: a herd of cattle turned loose in the streets of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, as he himself later said, it didn't work out as planned. There's an enjoyable zaniness and surrealism to the spectacle, but it's all a little overplayed, Mack Sennett style, which is uncharacteristic for a Keaton movie. Even more atypically, he fakes the final stampede by speeding up the film: it just wasn't possible to get the cows moving fast enough to provide a satisfying final chase.

The earlier part of Go West, however, contains a number of beautifully Keatonesque moments: his attempt to adopt a bowlegged walk to look like an old cowboy, the elegantly summarized sequence where he rides the rails, the perfect timing of the supper table scenes, in which Buster repeatedly arrives just as everyone is leaving, then finally "turns the tables." Just hired at the ranch, Buster is handed a pail and stool and told to milk a cow. He approaches the cow, places the pail under her udders, sits down a discreet yard away and waits for the cow to do her thing. When nothing happens, he takes the pail and shows it to the cow, in case she didn't notice it was there, puts it back and keeps waiting patiently. Playing it straight, never italicizing his jokes, finding comedy in stillness and in not reacting, a comedy of negative spaces, is the essence of Keaton's style. He never "milks" his gags—not even this one.

In my favorite scene, Buster pokes fun at his own "stone face" persona. He's playing cards with a couple of tough cowboys and accuses one of cheating. The cowboy pulls out his six-gun, levels it at Buster, and orders, "When you say that—SMILE." Buster's reaction is one of his subtlest and most ineffably hilarious close-ups. He pauses; he ponders—not whether to smile, but how to get out of the jam since he CAN'T smile. He tries out the Lillian Gish, Broken Blossoms bit of pushing the corners of his mouth up with his fingers. Not good enough. He sighs. Then a crafty determination creeps into his eyes. He insinuates his pinky behind the cowboy's trigger finger, and with all his strength keeps him from squeezing the trigger while he pulls out his own tiny gun (which, for convenience, he has attached to a string like a child's mitten) and makes the guy back down. Not smiling is a matter of life and death.
25 out of 27 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
A let-down to say the least
butterfinger24 October 2004
I suppose Go West is an uplifting story-a young, goodhearted working man makes a living in the west-and I like the comparison between city and country life, but there is no heart in this film. It is stiff and cold. Even Buster Keaton himself (as the cowboy) lacks his earnestness and lack of confidence. Or maybe he doesn't-it's hard to tell since we rarely get to see clear shots of his face. This is a shame since what makes Keaton so good is not his visual grace so much as his nervous facial expressions while pulling off his stunts. Here we have action but no reaction. Even the action isn't very good; the only scene of real physical mastery is one where Keaton is tumbling around in a boxcar full of barrels; once again, the scene stinks because we never get to see his face. Even the attempt at adding a romance to the film is downright awful because it feels stapled on. One somewhat funny scene involves a crazed gunman trying to get Keaton to smile (you can imagine how reluctant he is) but the scene is a blatantly annoying wink to Keaton's persona and feels like a commercial for Keaton's work rather than a good old-fashion silent comedy riff. Buster Keaton is one my favorite comedians (probably my favorite silent comedian) but he has a handful of incomprehensibly popular trash such as Steamboat Bill Jr., Seven Chances, and-I would hate to have to add it too the list but-Go West.
4 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
This is the first Silent film I have ever seen
minerals7 December 2005
I have to say I really like this movie because my recently deceased Grandfather had this movie on VHS tape and when I watched it I was able to get a huge amount of laughs out of it because of what Buster Keaton did when he dressed up in the DEVIL costume to get those cows to chase him to the Livestock yard. That was one good movie that should be available for everyone to watch. I just love how it shows that chase down the streets of that one city when those cows are all stampeding after the man in the costume because of how cows chase red things. I just wish that TV stations like AMC and Turner Classic Movies would show this film over and over again because this is a whole lot better than the films that are released today.
17 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Underrated Keaton Film
prionboy13 July 2000
Go West is a movie that you seldom hear about and even Keaton did not consider it among his best. However, every time I see it, I cannot help but think that it is one of his funniest and most touching films. In his independent work, Keaton had an amazing ability to portray very unfortunate characters and yet not seem to be pandering to the audience for its pity. In this film, Keaton plays a character referred to as Friendless. The opening scenes of the film show him bouncing around from one unfortunate (and hilarious) situation to another. Yet rather than feel pity for him, the audience can root for this character and good-naturedly laugh at how Friendless reacts to and deals with his misfortunes. It's difficult not to admire the way he overcomes all challenges. When he finds a friend in a cow named Brown Eyes, his loyalty to her and the rancher that employed him precipitates an amazing sequence of events, culminating in an unbelievable cattle stampede through the streets of LA. Although, the scene may drag on a bit, I'll never forget the image of Buster Keaton running down a city street in a red devil's outfit being pursued by a giant herd of cattle. It is one of the most hilariously absurd scenes ever committed to film. There are great gags from beginning to end and, as usual for Keaton, the final sequence is very satisfying. In addition, the Kino release has an outstanding soundtrack which enhances the film considerably. I would highly recommend Go West to anyone as an introduction to Keaton, silent films, or comedies in general.
12 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Underrated Keaton Film
prionboy18 May 2000
Go West is a movie that you seldom hear about and even Keaton did not consider it among his best. However, every time I see it, I cannot help but think that it is one of his funniest and most touching films. In his independent work, Keaton had an amazing ability to portray very unfortunate characters and yet not seem to be pandering to the audience for its pity. In this film, Keaton plays a character referred to as Friendless. The opening scenes of the film show him bouncing around from one unfortunate (and hilarious) situation to another. Yet rather than feel pity for him, the audience can root for this character and good-naturedly laugh at how Friendless reacts to and deals with his misfortunes. It's difficult not to admire the way he overcomes all challenges. When he finds a friend in a cow named Brown Eyes, his loyalty to her and the rancher that employed him precipitates an amazing sequence of events, culminating in an unbelievable cattle stampede through the streets of LA. Although, the scene may drag on a bit, I'll never forget the image of Buster Keaton running down a city street in a red devil's outfit being pursued by a giant herd of cattle. It is one of the most hilariously absurd scenes ever committed to film. There are great gags from beginning to end and, as usual for Keaton, the final sequence is very satisfying. In addition, the Kino release has an outstanding soundtrack which enhances the film considerably. I would highly recommend Go West to anyone as an introduction to Keaton, silent films, or comedies in general.
31 out of 33 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
One of Buster's best, but most obscure films
DrWatson28 October 1999
This really is a hidden gem. For those of you familiar with Buster's technical wizardry in films like "The General" and "Sherlock Jr.", this film will be a revelation. You will be able to witness an entirely different side of Buster Keaton, that of Keaton the actor. His wary calm in this film is perfectly matched to the story of an unlucky drifter who finds himself working on a dude ranch in California. This film features one of Buster's best performances, and a most unusual leading lady. A treat for everyone, but Keaton fans especially.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed