Go West (1925)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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With this delightful film, Buster Keaton rivals Charlie Chaplin for comic poetry and pathos. Keaton's character, known only as Friendless, is a Midwestern boy who is down on his luck. After an abortive attempt to get by in the city, he follows Horace Greeley's advice to "Go West, young man!" As a result, Friendless winds up on a cattle ranch and is about the most unlikely cowboy imaginable (in fact, he never does trade in his porkpie hat for a ten-gallon). Various bits of comic business abound; standouts include the milking scene and a card game in which Friendless accuses a player of cheating. The sharpie tells The Great Stone Face "When you say that -- smile!" More importantly, Friendless finds true love -- not with the rancher's daughter (Kathleen Myers) but with Brown Eyes, a cow who seems nearly as out of place in the herd as Friendless does on the ranch. Cow and boy become devoted, but Brown Eyes is headed for the slaughterhouse. Friendless resolves to rescue her, sneaking on the train that's taking her and thousands of other cattle to the Los Angeles station. The herd escapes from the cattle cars at the destination and runs amok through downtown L.A.; it is then up to Friendless to round them up. Look closely during the hilarious stampede scene -- Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle plays a part in drag, and Keaton's father also has a bit in a barber shop. With the help of a costume shop, Friendless saves the day...and his cow. Go West is Keaton's most heartfelt film, and certainly one of his most underrated.
Classics , Comedy , Western
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Buster Keaton
as Friendless
Howard Truesdell
as The Ranch Owner
Howard Truesdale
as The Ranch Owner
Kathleen Myers
as The Ranch Owner's Daughter
Ray Thompson
as Ranch Foreman

Critic Reviews for Go West

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (1)

Buster Keaton is an able pantomimist; his morose and sensitive face commands a certain sympathy. We are, therefore, not absolutely unresponsive to his new comedy, Go West.

Full Review… | January 23, 2013
The New Republic
Top Critic

Buster's warmest film and his personal favorite.

Full Review… | October 25, 2011
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Keaton's transcendent comedy of inadequacy

Full Review… | August 25, 2009

One of Buster's best, which means one of cinema comedy's best.

August 10, 2006
Dispatch-Tribune Newspapers

Typically inventive and gut busting comedy from the Great Stone Face.

May 19, 2005
Nitrate Online

Buster Keaton's Go West doesn't quite compare to his best films but is an admirable stab at the funny bone nonetheless.

Full Review… | August 10, 2003

Audience Reviews for Go West


It is so much fun to see Keaton throw the West upside down as he befriends a jolly cow in a ranch, struggles to arrive in time for lunch and sets a herd of cattle free in the city while trying to make his way as a cowboy, even if hilariously clueless about what he is doing.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


Another incredible Buster Keaton film. I found this to be hist most consistent film as far as comedy goes. I may not have laughed as much, even though I still did, but I thought the material was better paced instead of leaving the majority of it for the climax. The story is also surprisingly sweet, the description for this film likens it to Chaplin's films, which are more sentimental and contain a lot more heart. Not to say Keaton's films don't have heart, because they do, it's just that Chaplin's films depended more on that instead of the comedy. Anyway the point is that I agree with the comparisons wholeheartedly. The movie tells the sweet story of Friendless who, obviously, is friendless and how he makes his way to the west, where he gets a job as a COWBOY, a vague job description if you ask me. Anyways, while there he meets and befriends a cow, yes...a cow. Anyway the story is about what he'll do for his one and only friend when Brown Eyes, the cow, is sold off to a slaughterhouse. Hilarity, of course, ensues. And while this may not have the wildest stunts of his career, there are still some really clever and inventive moments. I thought that the climactic scene, while still strong, was probably a little too long. Some of it could've been shortened to benefit the film. That's not really a big complaint when the movie runs 68 minutes, so it still flies by. Anyway, I loved this movie. It's got a charming story and it's really funny so I loved watching this. I had a lot of fun and this is a must-see if you love silent comedy.

Jesse Ortega
Jesse Ortega

Super Reviewer


"Go West" is not as well-regarded as some other Buster Keaton films such as "The General" and "Our Hospitality," but it's certainly worth seeing. And at only 69 minutes, it doesn't require much of a commitment. Down-on-his-luck "Friendless" heads west (Keaton sure did love train scenes) and grabs some work as a cowboy, despite being a complete novice. He can't ride, can't shoot and can't milk a cow. When he pulls a stone out of a limping cow's hoof and the grateful beast becomes devoted to him a la "Androcles and the Lion," it seems like a sweet gag. Surprising that this idea becomes the central plot -- it's not much to hang a movie on. However, the climatic cattle drive through the streets of Los Angeles is a set piece that can't be missed.

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

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