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Film / Go West

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Go West is a 1925 feature film starring, directed by, and written by Buster Keaton. Buster plays "Friendless", a drifter who hops a freight train going west because he has nothing better to do. He winds up at a cattle ranch in the desert and is predictably inept at handling cows, but makes good friends with one particular cow called Brown Eyes. After he plucks a stone out of her hoof, Brown Eyes follows him around constantly, at one point saving Friendless from a charging bull. When Brown Eyes is packed off for slaughter, Friendless must spring into action to save her, while getting all of the other cows in the herd to the stockyards.

The Marx Brothers starred in another Western spoof titled Go West but it's not a remake. Not to be confused with Go West! A Lucky Luke Adventure.


  • Androcles' Lion: Friendless removes a rock from Brown Eyes's hooves, which was hurting her; in return, she protects him from a bull about to attack him.
  • As Herself: Brown Eyes the cow is credited as "Herself".
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Friendless seems to be the only one who cares about Brown Eyes, and vice versa, which is why they keep looking out for each other.
  • Bindle Stick: Friendless collects his meager possessions, which are basically a shaving kit and a picture of his mom, in a bindle.
  • The Cameo: Fatty Arbuckle appears as an extra in a department store during the cattle drive through the city. This was probably Keaton doing a favor for his old friend and former co-star, after Arbuckle's career had been destroyed by a bogus manslaughter charge.
  • Cattle Drive: The rancher has to get his cows to the stockyards, but another rancher who wants to hold out for higher prices is determined to stop him. Friendless, who has hopped on the cattle train solely to save Brown Eyes, helps fight off an attack by the rival rancher's goons, then must get the other cattle from the train station to the stockyards. His trip through the streets of L.A. with a thousand cattle is a long comic set piece that forms the climax of the film.
  • Comforting Comforter: Friendless gives up his blanket so that his only friend (Brown Eyes) can keep warm.
  • Determinator: Friendless is not going to let Brown Eyes go to the slaughterhouse; he's also going to make sure the rest of the cattle make it to the stockyard.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Throughout his career Keaton de-emphasized romance in his comedies and often viewed romance with a cynical eye, and this film might be the most extreme example. The rancher's pretty daughter notices him and takes an interest, but he does not seem to realize she exists. At the end, the rancher, grateful that Friendless got the cattle to the stockyard, offers him anything he wants. The daughter gives a come-hither look. Buster says "I want her." He's talking about the cow.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Not with the rancher's daughter, but with Brown Eyes: Friendless, despite knowing her for only a short time, risks both his job and his life to save her from the slaughterhouse. He also stays up with a shotgun (or at least tries to) to protect her from wild predators.
  • Fixing the Game: One of the ranch hands deals from the bottom of the deck, and pulls a gun when Friendless calls him on it.
  • Friendless Background: Well, he's not called "Friendless" for nothing. Brown Eyes seems to be neglected as well.
  • Interspecies Friendship: An endearing one between Friendless and Brown Eyes.
  • Little Useless Gun: Friendless has a ridiculously tiny gun, which he ties a string to after getting it stuck in his holster. Another ranch hand gives him a bigger gun out of disgust.
  • Loyal Animal Companion: Brown Eyes follows Friendless around everywhere.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: When Friendless sees one of the bulls getting too interested in Brown Eyes, he gets a set of antlers that are hanging off the wall and ties them on her head to make her look like a bull too.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: The rancher, the daughter, Buster, and Brown Eyes drive away in the rancher's car.
  • Organ Grinder: A stunning racist gag has Buster encountering an organ grinder, who is playing music not for a monkey, but for a black man dancing in the street.
  • Running Gag: Friendless trying to fish out his hilariously tiny gun out of his much bigger holster. Eventually he just puts it on a string.
    • Friendless tries riding a horse twice; he fails both times. He manages to ride on Brown Eyes, though.
  • Satan: Friendless needs to find a way to lure the cattle through the streets of Los Angeles to the stockyards. Specifically, he needs to find something red. So he dresses up as the Devil.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Friendless, like most Keaton characters, begins the movie being pushed around and (literally) trampled. By the end, he's casually leading a thousand cattle through the streets and exasperatedly shooing them out of stores.
  • The Unsmile: After Friendless catches the ranch hand cheating at cards, said ranch hand pulls a gun and says "when you say that—SMILE." Buster Keaton, of course, was The Great Stone Face, so Friendless pushes the corners of his mouth up with two fingers.