A meek and mild projectionist, who also cleans up after screenings, would like nothing better than to be a private detective. He becomes engaged to a pretty girl but a ladies man known as the Sheik vies for her affection. He gets rid of the projectionist by stealing a pocket watch belonging to the girl's father - which he pawns to buy her an expensive box of candy. He then slips the pawn ticket into the projectionist's pocket and subsequently is found by the police. He doesn't have much luck but in his dreams, he the debonair and renowned detective Sherlock Jr. who faces danger and solves the crime. In real life, the girl solves crimes quickly. Written by
For the sequence in which Buster Keaton's "dream-self" enters the "movie within a movie," Keaton employed the power of suggestion. He shot an actual movie featuring Ward Crane and Kathryn McGuire in a living room setting. As the sequence begins, the movie is playing on the theater movie screen. The film cuts back and forth between Buster sleeping in the projection booth, and his "dream-self" climbing on stage as the movie is showing. In the scene where Buster's "dream-self" steps through the movie screen and into the movie, the living room setting was re-created on the theater stage, and a large hole was cut in the movie screen for Keaton to step through. The actors were placed in the living room setting, creating the illusion that Buster stepped inside the movie screen to join them. See more »
After Sherlock Jr spins the fence around placing his pursuers behind it, he puts a crossbar across the gate to stop them coming back. In the next shot as he leaves the alley, the crossbar is no longer visible on the fence. See more »
[to Sherlock Jr. about a man locked in a tight cage]
That's a detective. When he's dead I'll put you in there.
See more »
Though a lot of older films tend to be neglected, Sherlock Jr. definitely isn't a film that could be called obscure. I imagine most people at least know OF this movie with its famous movie-in-a-movie surrealist scene.
Still, having previously heard over and over again about the brilliance of this film, I never really understood until I saw it myself. It's not just the dream-story and the surreality, it's what Keaton does with it and the importance he places on cinema. This film is even rather unique in using montage in a new way, or showing how much film appeals to the imagination as much as an artistic endeavor.
Thus, this film itself becomes both wildly imaginative and brilliantly artistic... and best of all, it's FUNNY! Thus, it becomes a film for everyone. There's no hard-found artistic conceit that leads to cries of "Pretentious!", but still people can say "It's amazing." There's no comedic conceit that says, "Bah, just simple slapstick, it's low-culture!" because it's rather intelligently done. And it's creative in a way that isn't like an opium-dream. It can appeal to anybody of all ages. It's one very well-done film.
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