Sherlock Jr. is a 1924 silent comedy film starring and directed by Buster Keaton. It is one of the most highly regarded silent as well as comedy films and for all the good reasons as it is simply wonderful.
It is about a theater janitor and projectionist who is in love with a girl but has a rival. It also follows his dreams while in the theater later on and the less said about the plot the better as you should experience it without having it spoiled. This is a perfect example of a simple film, not simplistic, but simple movie that works on all the levels, both as a great comedy and as a wonderful vehicle for Keaton and an overall charming story. The story is so charming, effervescent and at times even touching that I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. I honestly did not expect such a quality filmmaking as I was not a big fan of the director’s ‘The General‘ and I did not find him funny at all. But here he proved me otherwise and now I’ve come to really like him as he was both endearing and funny here. And this film is infinitely better than the aforementioned 1926 film and I cannot understand why people think otherwise.
Our protagonist is the highlight here. He is such an innocent and good-natured guy, but also funny and very likable. You really feel and root for him which is excellent. The girl is also wonderful as his love interest and the sheik is typical, but this is Keaton’s show and his character is the standout and especially his acting. He did such a phenomenal job in the title role that he is instantly likable and also exhibited great comic timing as well as great stunts.
Speaking of stunts, they are incredible, so awe-inspiring and dangerous, but executed perfectly with a couple of breathtaking moments. The action sequences overall are fantastic and really add to the movie’s appeal in the end. Sherlock Jr. is also incredibly innovative with the dream sequences being just amazing and in my opinion the highlight of the whole movie along with an incredibly satisfying ending and a great billiard scene. Those scenes had so many wonderful moments and were so incredibly well executed in an inventive and very groundbreaking way providing a lot of laughs and genuine entertainment. They are accompanied by a terrific score and splendid production values. The effects are gorgeous and it is just so admirable what he achieved here back in those days. Pure screen magic.
The directing is excellent. Buster Keaton did such a great job both in front and behind the camera. But the movie is great mostly thanks to its editing. It is perfectly paced with never a rushed scene and although the running time is very short, barely a feature-length format, it is perfect for this kind of film and it is so incredibly well edited and shot that it is just so satisfying and so well wrapped-up. This is one of the best edited silent films and overall films I have ever seen to be honest. It is an immensely polished work of a genius. And I overall came to appreciate Keaton much more here and he was here even on almost the same quality level as Chaplin which is quite an accomplishment. It has a wonderful imagery and score and I like that it has so little intertitles as it was such a great approach in storytelling as the film doesn’t need it and works as a perfect visual work. It has a great deal of imagination and authenticity as well. And the characterization is excellent. Although the supporting characters are so-so, the main is great.
Sherlock Jr. is a beautiful film. It is wonderfully directed and acted, humorous and imaginative but most of all endlessly charming and entertaining. Buster Keaton is great here both in front and behind the camera and this is one of the best edited films ever. The dream sequence is the inventive highlight whereas the billiard scene is the funniest and the ending is the most satisfying. The movie has such a great imagination and authenticity, wonderful humor and terrific action sequences and it is just an endearing film that is charming from start to finish.