Sunday, July 22, 2012

Silent Sundays: Sherlock Jr. (1924)



“We are lost! He is sending for the world's greatest detective - Sherlock Jr.!”

            Of the few Buster Keaton films I have seen so far Sherlock Jr. has been my favorite. The film for me plays on the dreams so many people have- being in the movies or being a famous private detective. Who does not want to be an actor in the movies? It is by no means an easy job but you get to dress up and bring characters to life and I am quite sure it beats the hell out of working in a “normal job.” Also growing up who did not want to be a detective? I guess this day and age being a detective is something different since there is forensic science instead of just the magnifying glass and a dog. I started watching CSI when I was twelve years old (good lord how time flies!) I loved that show so much that I was considering going into the field… until I realized how much math is involved and how bad I was at science. Now I just dream of being Sherlock Holmes or having a partner and being Nora Charles to a Nick Charles (I gotta find someone first don’t have anyone at the moment).
            In Sherlock Jr. Buster Keaton plays a projectionist in a movie theater. He is studying to be a detective from a detective’s handbook. Sherlock has a girl who he wants to buy perfume for. He finds some money in the trash he has collected but three people come back looking for their money they dropped. The first lady who comes for her money he asks her to describe what the dollar looked like! Sherlock with only a dollar left buys his girl the dollar perfume and when he gets to her house he makes the one a four. He sits down with the girl. Both of them are a little shy but eventually they hold hands. Ruining their moment together a man called the Sheik walks in. He too has come to bring the girl some perfume. He brings her the real four dollar perfume that Sherlock could not afford.
            The Sheik brings the girl into the next room making Sherlock stay in the room by himself. The girl’s father comes in all upset because someone has stolen his pocket watch. The Sheik comes over by Sherlock and sees that he is reading a detective book where the number one rule is to search everyone. The nasty Sheik was the one who stole the pocket watch; he takes his pawn shop receipt from the pocket watch into Sherlock’s pocket. When Sherlock is searched the receipt is found on him and the father kicks him out. The girl is very upset since she really liked him.
            Sherlock goes back to his job as a projectionist. He begins the film and falls asleep. He dreams that he gets up from his stool and sees that the two characters in the film are the Sheik and the girl. He gets upset and jumps into the film! In the film he is the famous Sherlock Jr. and he is asked to help solve the case of missing pearls that belong to the girl. The Sheik and his crony are afraid that Sherlock Jr. will find them out so they set up things to kill him such as an axe that will fall when he sits in a chair, poison in his drink, and a bomb in a billiard ball. Sherlock Jr. somehow manages to escape all the traps.
            The next day Sherlock Jr. sets out to solve the cast. He gets caught by the Sheik and his men then escapes and is chased all over town by them. Sherlock Jr. and the Sheik are always one step ahead of each other until the end when Sherlock Jr. finds the girl and brings her back, along with the pearls, to her father.
            When Sherlock wakes up in the projection booth the film is almost over. The girl comes to see him to tell him that she and her father have made a terrible mistake about him. She found out that he was not the one who stole the pocket watch. Sherlock catches glimpses of the ending of the film and imitates some of the movements of the actor like how he kisses the actresses hand and takes her in his arms and gives her a big kiss on the lips. Since this is a Buster Keaton film his ending was innocent and completely adorable he just has Sherlock give the girl a quick peck on the lips and turn away embarrassed. 
            Buster Keaton is just awesome. The man did all his own stunts… EVERY SINGLE STUNT!! I read he even did a stunt for another actor. What I love about Keaton is how he was able to say so much with just his eyes and his body language that he did not need to do too many facial expressions. I also love how his characters are innocent to the corruption around them and he is genuinely out to help people.
        When Keaton had to clean the theater I sympathized with him. I work at a movie theater and sometimes I am put on usher duty where I have to clean up after disgusting messy people who do not know how to pick up their popcorn bags, cups, candy wrappers, or pretzel containers and leave them on the floor or in the cup holders! (subliminal message here- please be kind when you go to the movie theaters and pick up your garbage and throw it out you have no idea how disgusting it is for the employees to clean it up and how rude it is). Sometimes I get lucky and find some money like Sherlock did. I found eight dollars one day in cash but mostly I just finds change. 

            Sherlock Jr. has it all for the movie lover- its main character jumps into a film and becomes the hero and he is a detective. If you say you never once had a dream about being a detective or pretended to be one than I say you did not have fun as a kid. I had so much watching Sherlock Jr. it is a great silent comedy with great subtle and witty movements that I would not hesitate to show this to everyone.