Cops (1922)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Chase Movie, Slapstick  |   Run Time - 15 min.  |   Countries - United States   |  
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Synopsis by Janiss Garza

Although Cops is one of the all-time great two-reelers, its creator, Buster Keaton, never thought much of it. He felt it was just a run-of-the-mill chase film, which suggests that perhaps Keaton was his own worst critic -- the chase is what gives the film its brilliance. The film's beginning is a portent of things to come: Keaton longingly looks at his girl Virginia Fox through what appear to be prison bars. In reality, it's the gate to the mansion where she lives. The girl sends Keaton away, telling him not to return until he is a success in business. Keaton attempts to do so, acquiring, through convoluted means, a horse, wagon, and a load of stolen furniture. Somehow he drives his wagon into the middle of a policeman's parade, where an anarchist's bomb falls in his lap. Carelessly, he lights his cigarette with it and throws it away. It explodes in the middle of the parade, and suddenly Keaton is pursued by every cop in the city. The surrealistic vision of Keaton, small and alone, evading these hundreds upon hundreds of policemen is unforgettable. The filmmaker was both athlete and comic, and here he makes maximum use of both talents, racing down streets, playing a balancing act on a ladder, and casually grabbing hold of a car as it flies past, all in an attempt to evade the cops. When it was first released, this comic short confused many people -- its subtle statements (including its blend of humor and politics) went over the head of the average filmgoer of the '20s. But those same qualities make Cops a classic today.




business, chase, forbidden-love, love, romance, success


High Historical Importance