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Film / Cops! (1922)

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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.

"Cops!" provides examples of:

  • The Alleged Steed: The deaf, denture-wearing horse.
  • All-Natural Snake Oil: "Dr. Smith, Goat Gland Specialist"
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Non-Fatal Explosions: The cops experience Clothing Damage when the bomb goes off at the parade, but nobody seems to have been harmed otherwise.
  • Outside Ride: Combined with a Vehicle Vanish (see below).
  • Percussive Pickpocket: Early on, Buster steals the rich man's wallet while trying to help him up but then making both of them fall down on top of each other.
  • Spurned into Suicide / Suicide by Cop: Implied at the end. After initially escaping the cops and then being rejected by the girl again, he commits suicide by turning himself in to the angry mob of cops.
  • Undercrank: Used sporadically in the big Chase Scene.
  • Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Buster packing a vase and a pitcher.
  • Wire Fu: When Buster is launched from a seesaw.

Alternative Title(s): Cops