I saw Every Frame a Painting‘s video essay on Buster Keaton without having seen any Keaton or Chaplin films. I’ve seen Chaplin’s City Lights and my impression was good. And now I’ve seen Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. and my impression is wow.
Sherlock Jr. is a black and white silent comedy which follows a young theater projectionist banned from his girlfriend’s home due to false accusation of theft. When the young boy falls asleep in the projection booth, he starts to envision himself and his real-life events as the subject of a film with himself playing the titular detective.
I have kept a record of every movie I have ever seen in order of release (because yes I have the time for that) and so far Sherlock Jr. is the oldest movie I’ve ever seen. And it’s already on my short list as one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen.
Sherlock Jr.‘s master-artist Buster Keaton is known for his jokes standing the test of time and I can say that this couldn’t be more true. Sherlock Jr. is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen and it came out 92 YEARS AGO. That truly is a feat that shouldn’t go unnoticed. The jokes which are delivered entirely through visuals and body movement are constantly present and whenever you don’t see a gag happening on screen, you’re seeing one being set up.
Seeing Sherlock Jr. has not only given me a fantastic first impression of Buster but it has also made me want to order every film that he’s ever been involved with ever on Amazon. Buster Keaton is a true filmmaking genius and it shows in this masterpiece a bit too much.
Jackie Chan and Tom Cruise are usually credited as actors who do their own death defying stunts and they should be as their stunts are quite cool but they’re only fighting for second place with Buster Keaton in the game. The stunts in Sherlock Jr. are amazing! I read that in one specific joke/stunt, Buster Keaton fractured (nearly to the point of broken) his neck. If that isn’t commitment to your craft… I don’t know what is.
Sherlock Jr. also stands not only as one of the most impressive comedies ever made… but as one of the most impressive films ever made. There are visual effects and gags in Sherlock Jr. that would never have been possible beforehand and were considered impossible. Nowadays you can simply superimpose a character into a scene with a computer and some cheap editing software but Sherlock Jr. did it with visual changes and practical editing with actual film.
And the one thing that’s most noticeable (to me at least) is that this long list of brilliant gifts to the film industry have all been wrapped up into one neat little 45 minute bundle by the great Buster Keaton. Seriously. This gem is less than an hour!
The jokes are hilarious, the stunts are endlessly impressive, the visual effects are groundbreaking (for 1924) and the mastermind behind everything is just incredible to watch. Sherlock Jr. is one of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen.
What did you think of Sherlock Jr.? Leave your comment on the side and don’t forget to follow my Instagram page for movie posters.