This Buster Keaton short from 1920 features the star as an innocent golfer who eventually ends up – bear with me, here – dressed in the clothes of an escaped prisoner, whereupon he is captured by the cops and taken to jail. The golf-related material’s quite weak, and I expect Keaton and his regular co-director Edward F. Cline knew as much as they include a couple of shots showing a crowd of people chuckling away (the silent comedy equivalent of canned laughter), but once Keaton has the prison garb on it picks up considerably. At one point he’s marching along the road with a brigade of policemen behind him in formation, and the way he switches cars to make a subsequent getaway is typically nimble. Eventually he’s caught and he winds up in jail, and what’s more the man he’s mistaken for is due to be executed by hanging that very same day. Imagine! There’s some fun to be had in this setting as Keaton makes use of an elasticated noose before taking on an army of rioting prisoners, led by Joe Roberts’ bulky strongman, and there’s a cool stunt in which he uses a basketball on a rope to knock out a bunch of bad guys. Marie Dressler said Keaton used to do the same trick in vaudeville, twirling a ball on a rope around his head so that it gradually neared his father, who would be standing yards away shaving with a cut-throat razor. The short isn’t one of Keaton’s best efforts, but it’s a fun 20 minutes nonetheless.
Directed by: Buster Keaton, Edward F. Cline.
Written by: Buster Keaton, Edward F. Cline.
Starring: Buster Keaton, Sybil Seely, Joe Roberts, Edward F. Cline.
Cinematography: Elgin Lessley.
Editing: Buster Keaton.
Running Time: 20 minutes.