Go West

It was in 1925 when Buster Keaton found himself another leading lady to be in his newest feature film Go West. With big brown eyes, dark eyelashes, golden-red hair, a sweet demeanor, wet nose, four legs, and a tail, she was the perfect pick. Confused? Meet Brown Eyes, the lovable Jersey cow!

While this film includes a variety of animals you might find on a ranch (cattle, horses, herding dogs, a mule, chickens, and the like), the story focuses more on the friendship between Friendless (Keaton) and Brown Eyes. After traveling from Indiana to the bustling streets of New York City in a fruitless search for employment, Friendless finally decides to head out west and ultimately ends up at the Diamond Bar Ranch, where he becomes a cowhand. His name is a definite euonym for his character, as we see the constant rejection he faces wherever he goes. Brown Eyes is also outcasted from the herd of baldfaced cattle, who simply want nothing to do with her.

When Brown Eyes first crosses paths with Friendless, she is seen limping. He goes over to help get a rock out of her hoof, and she later saves him from a charging bull. In true Keaton fashion, he tips his hat to her. Brown Eyes then follows him around, and licks his hand in friendship. The two quickly form a close bond together and become inseparable. Friendless goes so far as to protect her from predators in the night, straps on a pair of antlers for her to fend herself with, and races against time to save his only friend from an awful fate.

In his autobiography, Keaton recalls some of his earliest (and most adorable) moments with Brown Eyes before production started:

I never had a more affectionate pet or a more obedient one. After a while I was able to walk her through doors, in and out of sets, even past bright lights. The only difficulty we had was when I sat down and she tried to climb into my lap.” (142)

Location shooting apparently took place near Kingman, Arizona. The extreme summer weather proved to be an obstacle, and ice had to be packed in with the cameras in order to avoid melted film emulsion. It was also discovered that Miss Brown Eyes went into heat during production, and filming had to be put on hold for about ten days.

Although this film is considered to be one of Buster Keaton’s quirkier and lesser-known works, the onscreen and offscreen companionship of Keaton and Brown Eyes is just too precious to overlook. I mean, he even hosted an afternoon tea party for her and some close animal friends. Talk about cuteness overload.

Finally, there’s even sheet music dedicated to the comedian and his bovine friend, which I would love to try and find at an antique mall someday.

This is my contribution to The Animals in Film Blogathon hosted by In The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. To view all posts, click here.

16 thoughts on “Go West

  1. Pingback: THE ANIMALS IN FILM BLOGATHON HAS NOW ARRIVED – In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood.

  2. This is one of my fave Buster Keaton films. Brown Eyes is adorable, and I’m not surprised Keaton had little difficulty with her during filming, for the most part.

    You’ve made me want to see this again soon!

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  3. Thanks so much for participating in the blogathon. I love this film, but I haven’t seen it for years. I definitely need to revisit it again soon. Brown Eyes was so adorable in it. Cute.

    I’ve also just announced another blogathon. This time the idea was proposed to me by another fellow blogger. Here is the link below. Would love to invite you to join in.

    https://crystalkalyana.wordpress.com/2016/05/28/announcing-the-joan-crawford-blogathon/

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  4. My favorite of Buster’s films. The first time I saw the scene of Buster in the devil’s costume being chased by the cattle herd was the hardest I’d laughed at a movie probably ever. This was the last movie I got to watch with my dad before he passed away, and when I see that scene now I can still hear Dad’s hearty laugh.
    I was privileged to attend the screening of Go West at the Damfinos Convention in Muskegon 2011. It’s very cool to be with fellow fans watching one of your favorite movies on the big screen with live musical accompaniment.
    And I have to say that Brown Eyes is my favorite of Buster’s leading ladies. The bond that develops between Friendless and Brown Eyes is very endearing. Thanks for posing all the pics of the two; I hadn’t seen most of them before.

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    • It certainly is quite a scene, and how amazing it is you got to see Go West at the Damfinos Convention! I would absolutely love to attend it one of these days. And I’m sure this film must mean a lot to you, especially in that regard.

      I’m also delighted to hear you enjoyed the photos and were able to see some “new” ones!

      Liked by 1 person

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