The Scarecrow (1920)
The Scarecrow and Keaton's other shorts of the time are considered to represent a high point of inventiveness and comic brilliance in his career. The Scarecrow, set on a farm, opens with a classic Keaton bit. Buster and fellow farmhand Joe Roberts (a boyhood friend from Michigan who takes on the Arbuckle role from the old relationship) prepare breakfast in their one-room house filled with Rube Goldberg-type devices. The phonograph doubles as a stove, the bookcase becomes the icebox, and the bed transforms into a piano. A plaque on the wall serves as a tabletop complete with plates. A series of strings dangling from the ceiling are attached to condiments that the two men swing back and forth to each other. These devices were based on ones Keaton had built as a boy at his family's summer home on Lake Muskegon, Michigan.
Both Buster and Joe are in love with the farmer's daughter (Sybil Seely), but the farmer (Joe Keaton, Buster's father) disapproves of both of them. Buster is chased by a supposedly mad dog (Fatty Arbuckle's Straffordshire Bull Terrier, Luke) and has his clothes torn off by a hay-processing machine. Borrowing a scarecrow's clothes, he manages to win the daughter's hand and elope with her on a motorcycle -- with the parson as an extra passenger!
Keaton is the only actor in The Scarecrow to receive screen credit. Among those showing up in uncredited bits are director Cline and a 14-year-old Mary Astor.
Producer: Joseph M. Schenck
Directors: Eddie Cline, Buster Keaton
Screenplay: Eddie Cline, Buster Keaton
Cinematography: Elgin Lessley (uncredited)
Original Music: Robert Israel (composer and arranger, 1995 edition)
Technical Director: Fred Gabourie (uncredited)
Principal Cast: Buster Keaton (Farmhand), Joe Roberts (Farmhand, uncredited), Sybil Seely (Farmer's Daughter, uncredited), Joe Keaton (Farmer, uncredited), Edward F. Cline (Hit-and-run Truck Driver, uncredited).
by Roger Fristoe