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Film / The High Sign

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Subtle, guys.

Guarding a man from danger and killing him at the same time is SOME job.

"The High Sign" (1921) follows a drifter (Buster Keaton) whose audition a shooting gallery leads to his recruitment as both a hit man and the bodyguard of the intended victim. Hilarity Ensues.

"The High Sign" provides examples of:

  • Accidental Aiming Skills: Arguably. Buster can shoot a bottle off a wall — just never the one he's aiming at.
  • Alliterative Name: The Blinking Buzzards
    ...a bold bad bunch of blood-thirsty bandits who would break into a bank, blow a battle-ship to bits or beat up a blue-eyed baby blonde.
  • Ballistic Discount: A shooting gallery customer holds Buster at gunpoint and makes off with the profits.
  • Banana Peel — first averted, then immediately done straight.
  • Blackmail: Extortion, actually, but there's no page for that.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Buster and the Nickelnursers don't notice the Blinking Buzzards entering the house.
  • Hobos: Buster, presumably, since he makes his entrance being thrown off a train.
  • Irony: The man whose newspaper Buster stole unknowingly buys it back from him.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Buster, at least initially.
  • Impossibly-Compact Folding: As Buster unfolds the newspaper, it just keeps unfolding until it's roughly the size of a bedsheet. As he tries to fold it up again, he has to stand on a bench to do so and quickly loses his balance.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Subverted and played straight — Buster has to fake amazing marksmanship at the shooting gallery, but manages to toss his hat onto a rack in the next room without looking.
  • Large and in Charge: See picture. (Buster reportedly stood 5-1/2 feet tall).
  • Magic Bullets: Or in this case, magic pellets — one shooting gallery customer uses his own double-barreled shotgun and wipes out the entire gallery with one shot.
  • Nose Tapping: The Blinking Buzzards' "secret" signal.
  • Painted Tunnel, Real Train
    • Buster appears to paint a hook on the wall and then hang his hat upon it.
    • Buster dives through a seascape that conceals a secret passage.
  • Visual Pun: After sipping some spiked or poisoned tea, Buster looks into the cup and sees a kicking mule. So, a drink with some kick.