Most Western-movie heroes are stoic loners, wandering through a desolate desert landscape that threatens to overwhelm them. “Friendless,” Buster Keaton’s stone-faced character in the 1925 Western lampoon Go West, is no different, but this time Friendless’ solitude isn’t exactly by choice. A diminutive but resilient New Yorker who hops a train out West (following Horace Greeley’s aphoristic advice) and becomes an unlikely cowboy on a cattle ranch, Friendless is—like many Keaton heroes—oblivious in the face of danger. He triumphs by sheer luck and determination, taking to the cattle-rustling business in the same unassuming way that Johnnie Gray, Buster’s character in The General, assumes the cavalier role of Confederate spy.
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