Sherlock Jr. (1924)

***½

How should I start this review? The review itself can’t/won’t be very long, because the movie isn’t very long (runtime of 44 minutes). I could of course, tell you that the movie makes no sense sometimes, and that would be true. But I didn’t necessarily want the movie to make sense. Then again, I could tell you that it’s the greatest movie ever made. I wouldn’t go that far, but… I really liked Sherlock Jr.. It was my first Buster Keaton film ever, and I can’t wait to see more. It mixed escapism with parody with genuine laughs, then made it a beautiful on-screen film.

Keaton starred as a movie projector operator AND the title character within the movie projector’s dream. After being blamed for stealing, then pawning, a pocket watch, he escapes into the world of film via his dreams. Sherlock Jr. has a lot of solid, funny gags; but it also has some crazy, violent gags. Other than that, I can only name one other flaw: the female character in the dream/film is needed only to give Keaton something to do and someone to love.

The rest of the film is beautiful, though. Buster gets locked in things a lot, and it becomes a very comfortable, familiar running gag by the end. (Also, for some reason, he gets wet frequently, too.) The final scene is one of the best. We’re watching it through a window, through which Keaton is watching a movie. It’s an ingenious idea, and it allows him to look into the camera for the last shot.

Silent comedies are like animated cartoons in which animals fall of cliffs: everything goes right until something goes wrong.