Sherlock, Jr.

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Sherlock, Jr.
Keaton Sherlock Jr 1924.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Buster Keaton
Uncredited:
Fatty Arbuckle
Produced by Joseph M. Schenck
Buster Keaton
Written by Clyde Bruckman
Jean Havez
Joseph A. Mitchell
Starring Buster Keaton
Music by Film re-scored:
Club Foot Orchestra
Cinematography Byron Houck
Elgin Lessley
Editing by Buster Keaton
Distributed by Metro Pictures Corporation
Release dates April 21, 1924
Running time 45 minutes
Country United States
Language Silent film
English intertitles

Sherlock, Jr. (1924) is an American silent comedy film directed by and starring Buster Keaton and written by Clyde Bruckman, Jean Havez and Joseph A. Mitchell. It features Kathryn McGuire, Joe Keaton and Ward Crane.

In 1991, Sherlock, Jr. was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant," and on June 14, 2000 the American Film Institute, as part of its AFI 100 Years... series, ranked the film as #62 in the list of the funniest films of all time (AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs).

Plot[edit]

A movie theater projectionist and janitor (Buster Keaton) is in love with a beautiful girl (Kathryn McGuire). However, he has a rival, the "local sheik" (Ward Crane). Neither has much money. The projectionist buys a $1 box of chocolates, all he can afford, and changes the price to $4 before giving it and a ring to her. The sheik steals and pawns the girl's father's pocket watch for $4. With the money, he buys a $3 box of chocolates for the girl. When the father notices his watch is missing, the sheik slips the pawn ticket into the projectionist's pocket unnoticed. The projectionist, studying to be a detective, offers to solve the crime, but when the pawn ticket is found, is banished from the girl's home.

While showing a film about the theft of a pearl necklace, he falls asleep and dreams that he enters the movie as a detective. The other actors are replaced by the projectionist's "real" acquaintances. When he awakens, the girl shows up to tell him that she learned the identity of the real thief. As a reconciliation is playing on the screen, he mimics the actor's behavior.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Keaton spent more time shooting this film than most of his others, due to the elaborate stunts and effects. Due to poor reception at previews, Keaton cut the film down a couple times. Thus, Sherlock, Jr. is shorter than his other features.

Keaton's Projectionist appears to walk into the movie screen, an early example of a film within a film. The scene shifted back and forth several times from the projectionist's booth to the movie. For the last shift, instead of the movie being projected onto the screen, there was a stage with live actors, designed to replicate the look of the movie. Therefore, Buster actually entered the stage, but created the illusion of joining the movie. Afterward, the scenery around him changes abruptly several times. In the 1940s, Keaton revealed that he and his cameraman had used surveyor's instruments to position him and the camera at exactly the right distances and positions to provide the illusion of continuity.

The encounter with the traffic cop was filmed on Larchmont Blvd. near Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles.

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Although Sherlock, Jr. was not a popular success in its day, it received critical praise from The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlanta Constitution.[1][2][3][4] Since its release, the movie has gone on to be recognized as a classic.

Recently, Time magazine named Sherlock, Jr. as one of the All-Time 100 Movies. They wrote, "The impeccable comedian directs himself in an impeccable silent comedy...Is this, as some critics have argued, an example of primitive American surrealism? Sure. But let's not get fancy about it. It is more significantly, a great example of American minimalism—simple objects and movement manipulated in casually complex ways to generate a steadily rising gale of laughter. The whole thing is only 45 minutes long, not a second of which is wasted. In an age when most comedies are all windup and no punch, this is the most treasurable of virtues."[5]

Film critic Dennis Schwartz wrote, "[The film is] one of Buster's superior silent comedies that's noted for his usual deadpan humor, frolicsome slapstick, the number of very funny sight gags, the many innovative technical accomplishments and that he did his own stunts (including the dangerous one where he was hanging off a ladder connected to a huge water basin as the water poured out and washed him onto the railroad track, fracturing his neck nearly to the point of breaking it. Keaton suffered from severe migraines for years after making this movie)."[6]

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 100% of modern critics gave the film a positive review, based on 14 reviews, marking the film as "Fresh."[7]

In 2012, it was ranked number 61 in a list of best edited films of all time as selected by the members of the Motion Picture Editors Guild.[8]

Accolades[edit]

In 1991, Sherlock, Jr. was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The New York Times. Film review, May 26, 1924.
  2. ^ The Los Angeles Times. Film review, April 28, 1924.
  3. ^ The Washington Post. Film review, May 12, 1924.
  4. ^ The Atlanta Constitution. Film review, April 27, 1924.
  5. ^ Time. Film review, 2005. Last accessed: February 21, 2008.
  6. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, November 20, 2006. Last accessed: February 21, 2008.
  7. ^ Sherlock, Jr. at Rotten Tomatoes. Last accessed: February 21, 2008.
  8. ^ The 75 Best Edited Films. Last accessed: January 5, 2013.

External links[edit]