And we have another fun Buster Keaton movie! This time, it’s the classic 1924 silent comedy Sherlock Jr.
Buster Keaton plays a projectionist in a local movie theatre, who is studying to become a detective. He becomes engaged to his girlfriend (Kathryn McGuire), but his rival, known as the Sheik (Ward Crane) steals her father’s watch and pawns it to buy her some candy. The Sheik plants the pawn ticket on the projectionist, and when it is discovered, the engagement is broken. The projectionist tries to shadow the Sheik, but fails to discover anything. Dejected, he returns to the movie theatre, where he falls asleep during a movie. In his dreams, the projectionist walks right into the movie, becoming Sherlock Jr. As he faces a similar case, here he is more successful at solving the case and escaping the bad guys.
Sherlock Jr. was Buster Keaton’s third movie, following Three Ages (1923) and Our Hospitality (1923). After about three audience previews, he had the movie whittled down to a length of about forty-five minutes. Despite its relatively short length, I will very much admit to having enjoyed this one a lot! There were several sequences that I really got a kick out of.
One of those moments was the beginning of the dream. With Buster’s character actually walking up to and jumping into the action onscreen, it was quite amusing! Especially with the scenery changing while Buster stayed in the same spot! To me, that was quite impressive (and hilarious!), especially considering how seamless the scenery changes were. Nowadays, you know they would have used CGI to do it, but the actual precision with which they did it for this movie just leaves me astounded!
Then the movie quickly follows that up with the arrival of Sherlock Jr. Before he arrives, we see the two villains trying to plot his demise, using either a chair with an axe waiting to fall, or an exploding billiards ball. Of course, the great detective never quite sits on the chair, and observes the two villains from a mirror as they try to signal to each other about the ball. And then we are treated to a bunch of trick shots that keep missing the exploding ball (with the two villains quickly running out of the room). Just fun stuff!
And I could easily get into the final chase sequence with Buster on a motorcycle, but it really needs to be seen to be believed! And there are easily any number of other moments, both small and large, that were memorable for me. This is easily one of Buster’s best movies, and one I have no trouble whatsoever recommending!
This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Cohen Media Group with The Navigator (1924) as part of “The Buster Keaton Collection Volume 2.” My own opinion is that the movie looks fantastic for this release! I’l admit, it’s the only way I’ve seen it so far, but, for my money, this release is worth it!
My Rating: 9/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
Buster Keaton – The Navigator (1924)
Coming Up Shorts! with… Abusement Park (1947)
(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 2 from Warner Archive Collection)
Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.
Welcome to my new feature on various theatrical shorts! Sometimes my comments will be on shorts included as extras on a disc set I am reviewing, and other times, they will be completely unrelated to the movie being reviewed (and I will try to indicate which). Hope you enjoy!
(Length: 7 minutes, 7 seconds)
Popeye and Bluto fight for Olive’s affections in an amusement park. Some fun to be had here, with the opening gags as Popeye and Bluto try to outdo each other, before Bluto takes off in a car with Olive and runs it on the roller coaster for the remainder of the short. A fun little short, and worth a few laughs, although I won’t deny I have had some more fun with some of the previous ones.
And stay tuned for more of Coming Up Shorts! featuring more of Popeye (and the eventual post on the entire 1940s Volume 2 set), along with other shorts!