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Film / Cops (1922)

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Fuck tha police!
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In this 1922 short, Buster Keaton is trying to become a successful businessman in order to woo the mayor's daughter (Virginia Fox), but unwittingly gets into a series of steadily escalating mishaps with members of the LAPD. Eventually he wanders into a policemen's parade, obliviously tosses a bomb into the crowd, and ends up chased by the entire police force.

This film is in the public domain and may be viewed in its entirety on YouTube.


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"Cops" provides examples of:

  • Bait-and-Switch: A stealthy joke. Buster takes his horse in to visit the goat gland specialistnote  and she perks up quite a bit. Buster then glances at the miracle worker's sign and pauses for a few seconds before walking back inside in a suspicious manner — but his intentions are innocent. He's only retrieving his hat.
  • Black Comedy: Specifically, Kafka Komedy.
  • Blind Alley: Buster is able to hide in a doorway when police officers rush in from all sides.
  • Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: There is one at the parade who throws a bomb that lands beside Buster. The latter is then Mistaken for Terrorist.
  • Cartoon Bomb: The cartoonish bomb that kicks off the chase.
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  • Con Man: Buster is being had by one.
  • Couldn't Find a Lighter: Buster lights his cigarette off the fuse of a bomb.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: At the end the girl refuses to hook up with Buster. Well, she was asking for him to become a business man, not a police officer.
  • Downer Ending: See Spurned into Suicide.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Buster manages to dress as a police officer at the end. But it doesn't help his cause.
  • Escalating Chase / Everyone Chasing You / Hot Pursuit: At first Buster chased by a squad of police men but ends up pursued by what looks like a few hundreds of them.
  • Extendo Boxing Glove: This film provides what is quite possibly the Ur-Example. Buster improvises an ingenious device to signal a left turn with a boxing glove on a pantograph. It works quite well, until he encounters a traffic cop at an intersection, clocking him twice as he makes a u-turn.
  • Irony: "Maybe he was arrested for speeding."
  • Lemming Cops: At the end, they all rush into the precinct station like lemmings, enabling Buster to lock them up.

Alternative Title(s): Cops

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