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Film / The Scarecrow

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Buster and Luke the Dog

The Scarecrow is a 1920 two-reel short film, starring Buster Keaton, directed by Keaton and Edward Cline.

Buster and another farmhand are rival suitors for the farmer's daughter (Sybil Seely). When an incident with a threshing machine leaves Buster undressed, he steals the clothes off a scarecrow. Hilarity Ensues.

Various sources credit a 14-year-old Mary Astor with making her screen debut in his movie, but apparently her footage was cut. The Scarecrow is in the public domain and can be viewed in its entirety at Google Video.

Not to be confused with the Batman villain, The Wizard of Oz character, the 1983 Soviet film Scarecrow, the 1973 movie Scarecrow starring Gene Hackman and Al Pacino, the 2000 film by Warner Bros., or Doctor Syn ("The Scarecrow").

"The Scarecrow" provides examples of:

  • Accidental Marriage: Sybil runs across Buster as he's getting up from tying a shoe, putting him in the classic one-knee marriage proposal pose. Cue intertitle: "This is so sudden." Luckily, he wants to marry her.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Did that dog just climb a ladder? And descend a ladder, headfirst?
  • Amusing Injuries
  • Aside Glance
    • Buster's double-handed farewell kiss to the audience before falling backward off a wall.
    • Sybil, after getting kissed by the "scarecrow" and escaping across the stream, looks back, and then shoots a suspicious glance at the camera.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Invoked by the intertitle, "He's running away to get married with your horse."
  • Bookcase Passage: The bathtub/sofa.
  • Chase Scene: A long chase in which Buster's roommate and the girl's father attempt to stop the girl and Buster from getting married.
  • Clothing Damage: Going through a thresher leaves Buster in his undershirt, boxers, and shoes.
  • Cock Fight: Buster and Joe are fighting over the farmer's daughter.
  • Coin-on-a-String Trick: Buster tricks the gas meter with a dime on a string.
  • Conveyor Belt o' Doom: Buster is accidentally fed into a thresher.
  • Cue the Sun: Parodied. An inter-title reading "Slowly and majestically the sun steals gradually over the hill-tops" is followed by the sun shooting straight up from the horizon and then hanging in place.
  • DIY Dentistry: Buster's buddy tries to pull Buster's sore tooth by tying it to a doorknob. He opens the door the wrong way, but Buster pulls it out himself when he slams the door in annoyance.
  • Double Take: Buster stares at the preacher, then glances up as if wondering whether the man fell from the sky.
  • Fainting: The girl, upon seeing Buster in his underthings.
  • Fake Rabies: Buster runs frantically from a dog that ate a cream pie.
  • Fanservice: Hellooooo, shirtless Buster!
  • Fat and Skinny: Joe and Buster.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Specifically, a horse and a motorcycle with sidecar.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Buster momentarily pulls this on his rival and the girl's father.
  • Literal Ass-Kicking: In one scene the girl's father tries to kick her in the butt but misses and falls.
  • Look Both Ways: Subverted. The preacher hit by Buster's motorcycle not only survives, he agrees to perform a marriage ceremony on the go.
  • Lost in the Maize: Buster manages to throw off his two pursuers in a field of maize.
  • Love Triangle: Buster and Buster's roommate both are after the girl.
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues: Or in this case, scarecrows.
  • Quick Nip: The farmer keeps a flask in the scarecrow's pocket for a quick nip. Buster has one after he finds this out.
  • Rube Goldberg Device: Buster and Joe's house is full of them.
  • Stripping the Scarecrow: Buster steals clothes off a scarecrow after his own clothes are torn off by a hay-baling machine.
  • Super Multi-Purpose Room: "All the rooms in this house are in one room."
  • Swiss-Army Weapon: In this case, Swiss Army furnishings — record player/stove/oven, refrigerator/bookcase, rolltop desk/sink, bathtub/sofa, Murphy bed/piano.
  • Synchronized Morning Routine: Buster and Joe's intricate ballet as they get up.
  • Trap Door: There's a trap door in the middle of the house for the garbage.
  • Walk on Water: Subverted. In order to ford a river without soaking his shoes, Buster crosses it by walking on his hands ... only to fall over just before reaching the far side. Moments later, the pursuing rival finds the one deep spot and falls in over his head.
  • With This Ring: Buster gives her a lug nut.