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
Buster Keaton doubled for Ford West, the actor playing Gillette, in the scene where the motorcycle he is driving (with Keaton on the handlebars) hits a deep pothole and bucks him off flat on his behind. 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 »
There is an old proverb which says: Don't try to do two things at once and expect to do justice to both. This is the story of a boy who tried it. While employed as a moving picture operator in a small town theater he was also studying to be a detective.
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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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