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SCARECROW, THE(director/writer: Eddie Cline/Buster Keaton; cinematographer: Elgin Lessley; music: Robert Israel; cast: Buster Keaton (Farmhand), Joe Roberts (Farmhand), Sybil Seely (Farmer’s Daughter), Joe Keaton (Farmer, Buster’s dad), Edward F. Cline (Hit-and-run Truck Driver); Runtime: 19; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Joseph M. Schenck; Kino Video; 1920-silent)
“Two-reel comedy that’s filled with numerous gags, inventive Rube Goldberg-type devices and physical antics.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Eddie Cline and Buster Keaton (“The Electric House”/”The Paleface”/”Three Ages”) co-direct and co-write this independent film, where they had complete control over their baby. It’s a two-reel comedy that’s filled with numerous gags, inventive Rube Goldberg-type devices and physical antics. It shows flashes of Buster’s comic brilliance, but the 19 minute short is uneven.

Farmhands Buster Keaton and Joe Roberts share a one-room cottage full of mechanical devices for making life easy, such as a dining table with pulleys and objects that have a dual function (a bookshelf doubles as an icebox, a record player doubles as a stove, and the couch doubles as a bath). The problem is that they are rivals for their neighbor farmer’s dancing daughter (Sybil Seely), but the farmer (Joe Keaton, Buster’s father) objects to both of them.

Buster is chased by a mad dog (Fatty Arbuckle’s Straffordshire Bull Terrier, Luke) and has his clothes torn off by a hay-processing machine. He then borrows a scarecrow’s clothes, and manages to elude his pursuing roommate and the farmer by disguising himself as a scarecrow. While a scarecrow he wins the daughter’s hand and elopes with her on a stolen motorcycle and sidecar–with the parson unceremoniously becoming an extra passenger and performing the wedding ceremony while in transport.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”