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24 June 2011

[Silent Film Marathon] 13# Sherlock Jr. (1924)

Directed by: Buster Keaton
Written by:  Clyde Bruckman, Jean C. Havez, Joseph A. Mitchell
Genre: Comedy, Family
Runtime: 45 minutes

Like many of Keaton’s classics, ‘Sherlock Jr.’ shows a lot of well-coordinated slapstick humour alongside the athletically funny ability from Keaton himself. Though this is my second viewing of a Keaton film, it seems his films are beginning to grow on me. Sherlock Jr. is very clever and has a great entertainment value. With a runtime of only 45 minutes it’s very much worth it in this frantic little detective film. Not only do I feel that Keaton is a man who knew the business of comedy well, but I also feel he is a great stunt performer. Practically putting his life at risk he comes through to entertain the audience with his clever and inventive stunts featured in this film, and The General as I have seen. This may not stand among the greatest comedies of all time, but as a 4 to 5 reel short film, it’s a grand 45 minutes of silent gold.

Plot:
Our story meets a young man (Keaton) who currently works at a movie theatre while also studying how to be a detective. He is a cinema projectionist who dreams of being a famous detective, like Sherlock Holmes and is in love with a beautiful girl (Kathryn McGuire). He presents her with chocolates and a ring, but another suitor (Ward Crane) also vies for her affections. The projectionist unsuccessfully tails his romantic rival, a deceitful sort who has stolen a watch from the girl's home and pawned it to buy her a larger box of candy. Falsely accused of the crime by his girlfriend's family, the heartbroken young man falls asleep at work while exhibiting a movie. We then take a trip into his dream where he dreams of himself walking into the cinema screen and becoming Sherlock Jr., unravelling a case.

Keaton as a comedic pioneer in some ways
It is clear to understand that talented Mr. Keaton is a pioneer of slapstick comedy and his ways would soon be followed. Like several comedians such as Chaplin, Stanley Laurel and even Oliver Hardy, he plays like a clown, but a clown with sophistication. Playing a simplistic character who yearns for love of a woman, he dreams a dream where he becomes the world’s greatest detective, and when he awakens he gets the girl. It’s a story where the characters depth is not really required, it is hard to explain but for a 45 minute short film the film stays at the basics of character and letting us focus on the comedy. After seeing this I will be sure to check out more of Keaton’s comedic work, and anything else he has done as I feel he is among the great comedy performers, writers and directors during this era. Alongside the great comedy antics, the music like many silent comedy films went well with the scenes.
Keaton performing one of his own stunts.
Overall:
It’s an enjoyable experience at that, which will leave you laughing. It’s great humour because anyone can relate to the silly antics, unlike today’s washed up humour where celebrities are spoofed. I shall not give an example as I’m sure some spring to mind for you. With great slapstick and an entertaining story, Sherlock Jr is a fine piece of comedy work from Keaton and should be remembered.

My Rating: 8/10

1 comment:

  1. Try Our Hospitality, also from Keaton.

    ReplyDelete

 

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