Sherlock Jr. (1924) – Buster Keaton

The Movie Book from DK Canada continues to provide laughs and entertainment as I take in another Buster Keaton film, Sherlock Jr. as I work through their What Else to Watch list following my screening of Steamboat Bill, Jr.

Running at a brisk 45 minutes, this iconic film is everything you would expect from a Buster Keaton film. Keaton plays the titular Sherlock, Jr. He is a projectionist at a theatre, but dreams of being a private investigator.

He has a Girl (Kathryn McGuire), but trouble comes around in the form of a man referred to as The Shiek (Ward Crane).

To get the projectionist out of the way, Shiek steals the pocket watch belonging to the Girl’s Father (Joe Keaton), framing Sherlock for it.

Our young hero is determined to put his blossoming detective skills to work and prove the Sheik is a villain, and win back the girl.

Filled with great gags and great stunts there is a reason this silent film endures, and that’s because you want to see Keaton’s character get the girl, be proved right, but you want to see everything he does to get there.

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About halfway through the film, he falls asleep at the projection booth, and then, in his dream, walks down into the theatre and steps up onto the screen. Knowing how it was done does not ruin the magic of it at all, and it’s a highly enjoyable bit.

From there, he starts to find himself in all manner of trouble, and finds himself in a situation not unlike the one he is currently in during his waking state. But in the movies, he’s the hero, the heroic detective, and he is going to solve everything and outsmart the villains.

This is something that he does with great aplomb. The stunts are simply amazing, and incredibly well done. Whether he’s running across the back of a train, shooting a game of pool, being dragged by a motorcycle or leaping through scenes and people, Keaton is nothing short of stunning in this sequence.

Keaton is expressive in his performance, incredibly funny, and it’s amazing that despite how innocent these gags are, they are still hilarious. I burst out laughing one moment, and then was gob-smacked by the next stunt.

Sherlock Jr. is a great example of Buster Keaton’s work, and it’s short enough that even someone who isn’t a fan of black and white, or silent movies, could get through and enjoy.

So, once again, DK Canada’s The Movie Book comes through with yet another fantastic recommendation. Don’t believe me? Pick up a copy yourself and start watching today.

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