The High Sign

The High Sign is a 1921 two-reel silent comedy film starring Buster Keaton. It was written and directed by Keaton and Edward F. Cline. The runtime is 21 minutes. Although One Week (1920) was the first of Keaton's independent shorts to be released, The High Sign was the first one to be produced.[1] Disappointed with the result, Keaton shelved the film. It was not until a year later that the film was released. The title refers to the secret signal used by the underworld gang in the film.

The High Sign
Buster gives the titular "high sign"
Directed byEdward F. Cline
Buster Keaton
Produced byJoseph M. Schenck
Written byEdward F. Cline
Buster Keaton
StarringBuster Keaton
Bartine Burkett
Charles Dorety
Al St. John
CinematographyElgin Lessley
Edited byBuster Keaton
Distributed byMetro Pictures
Release date
  • April 12, 1921 (1921-04-12)
Running time
21 min.
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent film
English (original) intertitles

Guitarist Bill Frisell released a soundtrack to the movie in 1995 on his album The High Sign/One Week. The Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra premiered its new score for the movie in 2008.


Buster plays a drifter who cons his way into working at an amusement park shooting gallery. Believing Buster is an expert marksman, both the murderous gang the Blinking Buzzards and the man they want to kill end up hiring him. The film ends with a wild chase through a house filled with secret passages.


  • Buster Keaton - Our Hero (as 'Buster' Keaton)
  • Bartine Burkett - Miss Nickelnurser (uncredited)
  • Ingram B. Pickett - Tiny Tim (tall villain) (uncredited)
  • Charles Dorety - Gang Member (uncredited)
  • Al St. John - Man in target practice (uncredited)

See also


  1. Foote, Lisle. "The High Sign." Damfinos. 7 December 2017.
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