HIGH SIGN, THE (director/writer: Eddie Cline/Buster Keaton; cinematographer: Elgin Lessley; cast: Buster Keaton (Our Hero), Bartine Burkett (Miss Nickelnurser,), Charles Dorety (Gang member), Ingram B. Pickett (Tiny Tim, Leader of Buzzards), Al St. John (Man on beach during target practice); Runtime: 21; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Joseph M. Schenck; Kino; 1921-silent)
“It’s a trip watching Buster try to protect his client from all The Blinking Buzzards trying to kill him.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Buster Keaton leaves the Fatty Arbuckle team, after The Garage (1920), to work for the indie studio of United Artists. Though this film was completed in 1920, it was released a year later. One Week (1920) was made later, but was released first because Buster had more confidence in it. One of the gags that got big laughs was of Buster reading a newspaper that he unfolds until it’s as big as a blanket. The funny bit was used by Buster in other films.Buster collaborates withEddie Cline, who also worked for Fatty in the capacity of actor and gag writer.
The story has Buster getting off a train and answering a newspaper ad by Tiny Tim (Ingram B. Pickett) to work in an amusement park shooting gallery. Tiny Tim is the leader of the secret-like Mafia organization called The Blinking Buzzards and they have taken a contract to kill the town’s miser businessman unless he pays the gang the blackmail of $10,000. Instead the miser instals a secret escape door in every room of his house and when he and his daughter are impressed by the shooting skills of Buster while visiting the gallery, he hires Buster as his bodyguard. A conflict of interest develops when Tiny Tim makes Buster a member of his secret organization and orders Buster to kill his client.
It’s a trip watching Buster try to protect his client from all The Blinking Buzzards trying to kill him, while running around the house and passing through all its secret doors.
REVIEWED ON 10/26/2011 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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