Watching Old Movies: The Goat (1921)

1921

 

What happened this year?

A lot of less fun stuff than 1920. The Tulsa race riots happened, the Red Army invaded Georgia, Adolf Hitler became Fuhrer of the Nazi party and his brownshirts begin physically assaulting the opposition, the Italian Fascist party was founded and a famine in Russia kills roughly 5 million people. But, on the plus side, the US officially declared an end to WWI! Which, you know… maybe a little late on that front guys?

There were a few famous births of note, though. Prince Phillip, Tommy Cooper, Nancy Reagan, Gene Roddenberry, Charles Bronson and Jackie Stallone! (Sylvester Stallone’s mother) So there’s that.

Anyway, meanwhile, Buster Keaton was making one of about a billion short comedy films, including this particular gem that I’m watching today… which, fyi, I did not know was actually only 22 minutes long, so… yeah. Bit of a short one today.

 

The Goat

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Plot: After a mix-up with a photographer, Buster Keaton accidentally gets mistaken for an escaped murderer and his face is plastered up on wanted posters. Hijinks ensue. Then more hijinks ensue. And even more. Look, it’s a 1920’s slapstick comedy, who really gives a fuck about the plot?

Trivia: At the 03:30 mark, when the man on the street is counting money in a wallet he found, the graffiti on the fence in the background reads “G.I.P. Funny”. (Alright look, IMDB didn’t have much in the trivia section for this.)

Helped Inspire: This specifically? Probably not much. Buster Keaton inspired a ton of people through his physical comedy though, including Jackie Chan.

 

My Thoughts:

You know, after watching Dr Caligari, I did actually wonder whether I might have gone too far back in time to begin this. Whether all the old-timey stylings of black/white silent filmmaking might have been too much of a culture shock for my modern palate to take all at once.

So naturally, trust this movie to almost immediately disprove that.

Yeah, this was just great fun. I’ve not watched as much Buster Keaton as I’d like, but I’ve seen some of his more famous works like The General (which was… slightly awkward considering all the Confederacy stuff) and his slapstick routine translates almost seamlessly through time (even if the politics don’t). And that goes just as much for this movie. It’s fast, it’s fun, it’s frenetic and it’s incredibly funny at times. And it wasn’t even the best comedy of the year! (I’ve already seen The Kid, so I couldn’t watch it for this.).

If I had to pick anything apart it’s that the plot is paper thin and not really resolved at all. Pretty certain they never clear Keaton’s name or catch the wanted criminal or resolve anything. But then again, honestly, the plot is clearly just an excuse for the comedy and in that regard it works perfectly. Although, I do have to wonder exactly why this movie is called The Goat, because it has literally nothing to do with goats. Then again, maybe it’s an old-timey term I’m not getting.

So yeah, this movie, short as it was, was still a lot of fun. Maybe not in the top tier of slapstick comedies I’ve ever seen, but certainly a proud example of the genre and I enjoyed watching. Honestly, they really don’t make movies like this anymore and I think that’s a genuine shame. So for now, I’m giving it a strong B+

 

Rankings:

1. The Goat (1921) – B+

2. The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920) – B-/C+

 

Well, now I’ve lightened things up a bit, maybe for my next film I should give the whole German horror thing a second chance? After all, I can’t let one bad experience throw me off. And, as luck might have it, there’s a certain little bonechilling movie available. One that is definitely not based on any existing properties like Dracula. Totally. I don’t know why you’d even suggest such a thing. Because it’s definitely not-

Oh hang on, someone’s at my door. ‘Scuse me for a second…

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