Feature Comedy | 1920 | Silent | B/W
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Slapstick Comedy. Buster Keaton knocks down and robs a few policemen (mostly without knowing it), then throws by accident a bomb into a policemen's parade. The climax is the final chase with hundreds of policemen running after Buster.
'Love laughs at locksmiths - Houdini'. Buster, behind bars, talking to a girl in front of the bars. They shake hands (through the bars), Buster lifts his hat. The girl leaves, Buster looks after her. A total shot reveals that Buster is not in jail but standing in front of a gate of a large garden. Buster asks the girl to wait. The girl, scornfully: 'I won't marry you until you become a big business man.' She turns and goes. Buster, angry, leaves as well. In the street. A fat man waving at a taxi, Buster arrives. A taxi, the driver sits at the door and reads a paper. He notices the man and gets up. The fat man, waiting for the taxi, gets a handkerchief out of his trouser pockets and wipes his face, thereby losing his wallet. Buster picks up the wallet, glances at the contents, then gives it back to the man. The fat man takes it, checks the contents, gets very angry and pushes Buster aside. Buster emphasizes that he found and did not steel it. The taxi arrives. Both the fat man and Buster step on the street. The fat man falls down while trying to climb the taxi, Buster hurries to help him getting up. While doing this, he falls down as well, and the fat man climbs over him to get up. He dusts his jacket, pushes Buster aside and gets into the cab. The cab leaves. Buster holds the wallet in his hands (suddenly) and counts the notes. The fat man, in the taxi, noticing the absence of his wallet. He shouts to the driver to turn. The cab turns. And, passing the counting Buster, the fat man grabs for the wallet and gets it. In the cab. He notices that there is no money in the wallet. He shouts at the driver to turn. The cab turns. Buster on the pavement, the cab arrives, the man gets out, the cab leaves - and Buster is gone. The fat man, staring after the taxi (with Keaton inside), swearing. The taxi stops at a corner, Keaton gets out, takes out a bundle of notes and pays the driver. A grey-dressed man with a paper, watching this. A couple and a child, carrying their furniture out of their house and piling it on the pavement. Husband: 'I've telephoned for the expressman.' They go. The grey man, watching. Keaton at the corner, leaving. The grey man, running to the furniture. He sits down in front of it, looks suspiciously around him, then takes off his hat and starts crying. Buster arrives, looking for a way around the furniture. He notices the man and sits down next to him. Man: 'I've broke and they threw me out.' Buster, showing pity. Grey man: 'If I don't sell my furniture my wife and babies will starve.' Buster, reaching at his pockets: 'I'll buy it and prove I'm a good business man.' He takes out the bundle of notes, the man takes it and gives Buster back a few notes. They get up, the man thanks Buster, and Buster looks at the furniture. The man leaves. Buster scratches his head, then notices: A man with horse and carriage and the sign: 'For sale $5'. Buster goes to the man, gives $5 to him, takes horse and carriage and leaves. The man is surprised, and we see that the sign belonged to an old jacket on a rack. The man looks at the jacket, the shop-owner arrives, takes the $5 from the man, leaves. The man puts on the jacket, contentedly, and leaves. Buster with horse and carriage arrives at the heap of furniture. He takes off the jacket, puts his hat at the horse's back and starts piling the furniture on the carriage. Meanwhile the husband (the owner of the furniture) starts to help him (taking him for the expressman). Buster is surprised, doesn't argue and passes pieces of furniture to the husband. Wife and children arrive and help as well. Buster sits down on a chair, leans back and watches them. Finally all the furniture, in a very big heap, is piled on the carriage. Buster stands up, thanks the man for the 'help', takes the chair and throws it on top of the pile. The wife brings a small suitcase, a vase and a jug. Buster puts the vase in the suitcase, tries in vain to close the lid, and finally steps on it. The vase is broken, but the suitcase closes now. Buster puts it on the carriage, hangs the jug at a rack. The rack pulls out and the jug smashes on the ground. Buster takes the rack and sits on the carriage. The husband gives a note to Buster with the address he is supposed to deliver the furniture to: '4 Flushing Place'. Buster throws the note away and drives off. Buster with horse and carriage, passing a house. Buster, at a junction. He signals for a turn by stretching out his hand, and a dog, sitting on a platform on a van, bites his hand. Buster swears, put on a boxing-glove, signals and drives on. The dog, barking. Buster on the moving carriage, taking the rack and nailing it on the carriage, then putting the boxing-glove at the end. A junction. He pulls out the rack with the glove, thus signalling for a turn. He turns. Another junction, with a policeman regulating the traffic. Buster arrives, signals for a turn with boxing-glove and rack, thus knocking down the policeman. Buster signals for another turn and knocks him down again. He drives on. The confused cop gets up and tries to continue his work, without much success. Buster, on the moving carriage, gets bored. He stands up on the carriage, walks to and fro, looks out in the distance. Then sits down again, puts a pillow on the bench and lies down. The carriage, with the sleeping Buster. The horse stops. Buster gets up and shouts at the horse. It doesn't move. Buster takes a kind of a wired phone, puts a pair of headphones on the horse's head and 'phones' him to move on. It moves on, Buster lies down again; we track horse and carriage moving very slow. The family in front of their new house, waiting for the furniture. 'Maybe he was arrested for speeding.' The husbands walks to and fro, impatiently. Buster. He wakes up and phones to the horse to stop. The horse stops. Buster harnesses himself next to the horse and helps pulling the carriage. They move a few steps. Then Buster tries to pull the horse; the horse gets angry and Buster steps back. He stops the horse cautiously, frees it from harness and headphones. Thereby the support for the horse's mouth falls down, Buster picks it up and tries to put it in the horse's mouth, in vain. He spots a sign: 'Dr. Smith Goat Gland Specialist.' He takes the horse. A spectator, watching. Buster leads the horse into Dr. Smith's house, fade out. Fade in: Buster is thrown out of the door, the horse runs out of the door, Buster jumps and sits in a window frame, frightened. He shouts at the horse. The horse jerks. Buster goes back into the house and gets his hat. 'Once a year the citizens of every city know where they can find a policeman.' A grand parade. Rows of policemen, marching, thousands of spectators. The policemen, walking round a corner. The policemen, marching. Cops on horses. Buster, climbing the carriage, fighting with a reluctant horse: It jumps and goes backwards rather than forwards. Finally Buster succeeds in making it go. Policemen, marching. At the side, a banquet. A policeman welcomes two people: 'I'm pleased to meet the daughter of our Mayor' (The girl we've seen with Buster at the beginning). They sit down. The parade, passing them. Rows of policemen, marching. In the background, Buster arrives and goes the same way, in between the parade. He is surprised when he notices. The banquet. The daughter spots Buster and points at him. Buster, moving in between the parade, looking around. Mayor, daughter and spectators, getting angry. Buster, lifting his hat to the masses. The parade and Buster stop for a while. A man on a roof, a bomb in his hand. Buster, getting out cigarettes, looking for matches. The man on the roof, lighting the bomb and throwing it. It lands next to Buster on the carriage. He gratefullly takes it and lights his cigarette. The Mayor's daughter screams. The spectators stand up, and the policeman gives orders. Buster holding the burning and smoking bomb. He throws it aside. A big explosion. Buster driving off. The smoke clears and the policemen get up, their clothes torn. They stumble around. Hundreds of policemen running after Buster. Buster drives past the banquet, thereby opening a hydrant, policemen run after him. The carriage crashes, people run to the furniture, and some policemen try to prevent them. Policemen, trying to close the hydrant. Spectators try to avoid the jet of water. People rummaging in the furniture. The banquet clears up. Buster, hidden behind an umbrella, remains sitting. Policemen rummaging in the furniture, looking for Keaton. At the banquet; policemen running after Buster. He climbs the platforms, steps into a house entrance, and the policemen crash down with the platforms. Mayor and policeman, arguing. 'Get some cops to protect our policemen.' A busy street. Buster leaving a house, crossing the street, then suddenly turning and running away. Hundreds of policemen arrive at the house, don't find him, split and run off in two directions. Buster, climbing out of a can on a small carriage, falling on the streets. He walks away, suddenly starts running. The family. 'Do you suppose anything could have happened to our furniture?' The husband dresses and goes away (he is, as can be seen now, a policeman). Buster at a corner. He sees the policemen coming and enters a building. Policemen come from both directions, pass, and run away in both directions. Buster comes out of the house, runs away. At a corner. He slows down, then suddenly runs again: The husband as a policeman runs after him. A junction with a policeman regulating the traffic. Buster hides behind him, waits for the other one to arrive and pushes them both to the ground. They get up, the husband pushes the other policeman to the ground, and they both follow Buster. They run and pass two cars, in one of them Buster sits disguised with a tie in front of his face. He walks along in the aisle of a car park. About 20 policemen spot him and follow him slowly. One jumps in front of him. Buster turns, spots the others and runs to the side. The husband at his destroyed pile of furniture. A policeman, showing the direction to some others. Buster arrives at the furniture, hides in a huge suitcase. The policemen run past. The husband spots Buster and comes closer. Buster looks out of the suitcase, spots the husband, 'hides' again. The husband closes and locks the lid, then tips up the suitcase. Buster creeps out: the bottom is broken. They both look at the suitcase, puzzled. Buster runs away, the husband after him. In the street. Buster runs, followed by a lot of policemen. One of them, in front, tries to intercept him. Buster changes directions like a rabbit, runs past him. Buster, running into the street, then stopping. A car passes, he clings to it and is taken away. The cops stumble, fall or run after the car. Two policemen with truncheons. The car passes. Buster jumps off, walks in between the two policemen, they strike and hit each other, fall to the ground. Buster is puzzled, runs away. He climbs a ladder that leans against a fence that is half of the ladder's height. Buster jumps, the ladder works like a seesaw: the end lifts and knocks down a worker with a bucket. Buster wants to climb down on the other side of the fence. A policeman arrives. Buster climbs up again, the ladder tips to the other side. Buster spots a policeman there, too, climbs up again. The ladder tips to the left side, again. A policeman clings to the ladder. Buster climbs to the end of the ladder, but can't lift the policeman. Others arrive at Buster's side and try to pull the ladder down. Now there are clinging policemen on both sides of the ladder (the see-saw), the ladder seesaws up and down, and Buster sits and climbs in the middle, on top of the fence. A policeman spots this and calls more cops. Buster, watching this, climbs down the ladder and sits on one end (that is still in the air, of course). On the other end now far more policemen are pulling. They 'win' and catapult Buster in the air. He lands on the fat man (he stole the money from in the beginning of the film). They fall down, and Buster helps him to get up. All the policemen run after him, so he stops his efforts with the fat man and runs away. A policeman, spotting Keaton from the other direction. Keaton in the street, running. Hundreds of policemen following him, and one trying to intercept him. Buster runs straight on and creeps through the policeman's legs. Policemen, running. After they have passed, Buster, running the opposite direction. Policemen, following. Keaton arrives at a large open gate in front of a building. He runs in, the policemen following. Hundreds of policemen, entering the building. Then its sign is revealed: 'Police Station'. After all the policemen have entered, Buster walks out, closes the doors and locks them. He is dressed as a policeman. He drops the keys into a dustbin. The Mayor's daughter arrives, sees his uniform, sneers scornfully and walks away. Buster takes the keys out of the dustbin, opens the door and the policemen grab him and lift him inside. A gravestone with Buster's hat and the words 'The End' carved in it.
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