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A boy’s best friend is his cow

‘Go West’ with the timeless appeal of Buster Keaton

by Michael J. Casey


he 1925 Buster Keaton classic Go West opens, “Some people travel through life making friends wherever they go, while others — just travel through life.” When Keaton traveled, he sauntered, adorned by his flattened pork-pie hat and too-short tie. Dubbed “The Great Stone Face,” Keaton played his expressions close to the chest and let his magnificently rubber body carry the work. His aloof nature sometimes works for him, sometimes against him, but Keaton, for better or for worse, never changes. He keeps chugging along, and eventually things work out. Then he takes another header into the dirt. Sometimes he goes down hard, sometimes he falls in sections. Sometimes he falls like rubber, other times, stiff as a board. No matter how, always that same stone face. Go West, screening Wednesday, July 23 as part of The Chautauqua Silent Film Series, is a magnificent display of

Keaton and his acrobatic qualities. Seeking money and work, Keaton’s character, Friendless, sells off all his earthly possessions and heads west to a ranch in Arizona. Unfortunately, Friendless makes for a pretty lousy cowboy. He doesn’t know how to milk a cow, can’t secure a saddle to a horse and uses a lady’s garter gun as his weapon of choice. His only friend is “Brown Eyes,” a cow that loyally follows him around after he removes a rock from her hoof. The cowboys are tasked with moving the cattle from the ranch to the stockyards of Los Angeles. While in

transit, the train is hijacked, but buster!” after baby Keaton fell down a set of stairs without a peep. The tale by luck of the draw (or fluke), was likely invented by Keaton, but the Friendless — and only Friendless fact remains, Keaton really could take a — escapes with the cattle in tow. buster. He survived the abuse of vaudeThis leads to an excellent set ville and once motion pictures came piece where Keaton leads 1,000 into popularity, he found a new home cows through downtown L.A. To to fall down in and started a career in say it causes a disruption is an Hollywood. IMDB understatement. lists him with 147 This gives acting credits Keaton all the ON THE BILL: Go West, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 23, between the years set-up he needs Chautauqua Auditorium, 900 for endless 1917 and 1966, with Baseline Road, Boulder, amounts of a large portion of 303-442-3282. Tickets are $5 for members and children under 10, jokes, all culthem being directed all others pay $10. Go West will minating into a cre(either credited or be preceded by a Keaton short, scendo of mayhem not) by Keaton as “The Scarecrow” (1920), and both will feature musical accomas the fire departwell. Keaton was paniment from Hank Troy. ment hoses down quick to exploit the the police departsheer size of the ment (and onlookmovie screen and ers) while Friendless — dressed as kept his facial expressions to a the devil — rides Brown Eyes through minimum, no matter how dramatic the the street. You have to see it, words fall, and it made him one of the greats. simply can’t do it justice. These subtle expressions do not show Joseph Keaton was born Oct. 4, well on the small screen, but lucky for 1895 and made his vaudeville stage you, Chautauqua Auditorium is just debut three years later. He claimed that the place to experience the majesty that Harry Houdini gave him the nickname was Buster Keaton. when he exclaimed, “That was a real Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com



GO WEST (1925)

Winner of Six German Film Awards, this tragicomedy is a self-ironic portrait of a young man who drops out of university and ends up wandering the streets of the city he lives: Berlin. Shot in black and white, and with a jazz soundtrack, it’s a look at a city and the zeitgeist of a generation. At Boedecker. — Boedecker Theater

In 1930s burlesque, a headliner called “the nance” was a stereotypically camp homosexual and master of comic double entendre — usually played by a straight man. Tony Award winner Nathan Lane was nominated for a Tony for his portrayal of Chauncey Miles, a homosexual “nance” at a time when it was easy to play gay and dangerous to be gay. At Boedecker. —Boedecker Theater

Silent film starring Buster Keaton and featuring live musical accompaniment by Hank Troy, piano. See full review above.


Following five circus acts from around the world to the “Academy Awards” of circus competitions, the Monte Carlo Circus Festival, this family-friendly film reveals the spectacular life, history and culture inside a world that we usually just see on the surface. At Boedecker. —Boedecker Theater

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FED UP For the past 30 years, everything we thought we knew about food and exercise is dead wrong. This is the film the food industry doesn’t want you to see. From Katie Couric and Laurie David, this may change the way you eat forever. At Boedecker. —Boedecker Theater

Also featured: “The Scarecrow” starring Buster Keaton, a mind-boggling mechanical comedy following two roommates vying for the attention of a young lady. At Chautauqua. STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING DOORS See full review on page 49. At Boedecker. —Boedecker Theater Respond: letters@ boulderweekly.

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