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Film / The Goat

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Epic Spot Check Fail.

The Goat is a short film from 1921 written by, directed by, and starring Buster Keaton.

Buster goes from Forgotten Man to Most Wanted when his photograph is mistakenly circulated as that of an escaped criminal.

The Goat can be seen in its entirety at

This short film provides examples of:

  • Amusing Injuries: The Police Chief gets Buried Alive under a pile of coals. Of course he lives.
  • Authentication by Newspaper: Wrongfully. People recognize Keaton as the murderer from the Wanted ad in the newspaper.
  • Bring It: As Buster is being pursued by police, he decides to stop running and turns to fight. Buster throws down his jacket and raises his fists as if inviting a fight, but conveniently a train passes between him and the police allowing him to run away without fighting.
  • Buried Alive: The Police Chief, under a pile of coals.
  • Cardboard Prison: Dead Shot Dan is easily able to escape incarceration. He just flips the light switch and runs away while the room is dark.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Buster, seemingly.
  • Escalating Chase: First it's one, then two, then three police men pursuing Keaton.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Buster approaches a crowd that has gathered to see a wanted poster, without seeing for himself who is depicted on the poster. See picture.
  • Fainting: The artist who watches his clay sculpture being destroyed by Keaton.
  • Flashback: Keaton flashing back to the scene where he gives the jerk pedestrian a good beating. The Wanted ad makes him believe he killed that man.
  • Frameup
    • Dead Shot Dan substitutes a picture of Buster for his mugshot.
    • A crook shoots at a cop and leaves the gun in Buster's hand.
  • Hello Again, Officer: A staple of silent comedy. First Keaton sends the three police men off in a truck but a few scenes later, the truck unloads the cops right in front of Keaton and the chase is on again.
  • Iris Out: The movie starts with an Iris In and has at least two Iris Out in the middle section and at the end.
  • Karma Houdini: Dead Shot Dan, apparently.
  • Left Hanging: One would expect Buster to clear his name, most likely by capturing the real Dead Shot Dan. One could be wrong.
  • Literal Ass-Kicking: Played straight, and subverted when Buster jabs a dummy with a pin.
  • Look Behind You: Buster fools the police men this way.
  • Meatgrinder Surgery: Played for laughs. Buster freaks when he sees the saw, drill and hammer placed on his chest, believing this to be the surgeon's tools.
  • Mistaken Identity: Keaton is mistaken for the criminal Dead Shot Dan because of the wrongly attributed mug shot.
  • Murderous Mannequin: Played for laughs. Buster strikes a match on a cigar store Indian that turns out to be a living, and irate, person.
  • The Oner: A train appears on the horizon, steams forward, and stops just far enough from the camera for a medium shot of Buster, who was seated on the locomotive's cowcatcher the entire time. Apparently done solely to demonstrate the cameraman's Nerves of Steel.
  • "Open!" Says Me: The Police Chief rams open the front door to his apartment after he locked himself in.
  • Outside Ride: Buster grabs onto a car to be dragged away from the cops. Later subverted when Buster clings to a spare tire on the backside of a car but then the car drives off without it.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Keaton adds a beard to the life-size mugshot of his, in an attempt to fool the Police Chief. But the latter looks through the scheme.
  • Sarcasm Mode: The opening intertitle, "On Millionaires' Row," is followed by an iris open on a breadline.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Right after the oner, Buster puts a cigarette in his mouth and lights it against the side of the train engine.
  • Stern Chase: Buster is pursued by police men through the entire film.
  • Super Window Jump: A feisty window jump saves Keaton from an unwanted surgery.
  • Train Escape: Happens twice in different flavors.
    • First a crossing train traps the three police men on the other side of the tracks, allowing Keaton to escape.
    • Later, Buster uncouples the train car occupied by the cops.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: Keaton's mugshot appears on the Wanted poster for Dead Shot Dan.