June 1, 2017
Review #941: Sherlock Jr.
Buster Keaton (Projectionist / Sherlock Jr), Kathryn McGuire (The Girl), Joe Keaton (The Girl's Father), Erwin Connelly (The Hired Man / The Butler), Ward Crane (The Local Sheik / The Villain), and Ford West (Theatre Manager / Gillette) Directed by Buster Keaton (#757 - Seven Chances, #762 - College, #805 - The Navigator, and #877 - Three Ages, #908 - The General, and #926 - Our Hospitality)
This is the shortest feature length film that Keaton directed, lasting 45 minutes (shorter than Seven Chances by around ten minutes), but that does not mean that the film is any less developed or entertaining than his other films. In fact, this is one of his best films in the achievements that Keaton makes on a technical and comedy scale; the deadpan humor of Keaton along with the gags of slapstick are high caliber for him, but it also manages to be quite imaginative with its premise (established quickly, naturally) and execution. How many movies do you know where a character walks onto the movie screen? The part where he goes through numerous film scenes before he enters the mystery world is particularly clever. The second half of the film is more entertaining than the first half for me, perhaps because I like seeing Keaton playing a detective, albeit under certain circumstances (namely, a dream). Keaton and McGuire are fine together, but the real highlight is seeing his interactions with Connelly and Crane, particularly the billiard game sequence. It's just a nice exchange between the three, and it is a scene that proves crucial in the climax, which is neat. The stunts and effects are entertainingly executed (such as the suitcase trick, or the water basin stunt, with a mishap actually resulting in a fractured neck), with the editing being a key highlight. On the whole, this is a highly competently made film, filled with entertaining aspects and imaginative setups. This is an easy film to recommend, as this is one of Keaton's best.
Overall, I give it 10 out of 10 stars.