Sherlock Jr. [Buster Keaton]

Sherlock Jr. (1924) starring Buster Keaton, Kathryn McGuire, Ward Crane

In Sherlock Jr., Buster Keaton stars as a movie theater projectionist who dreams of becoming a super-sleuth. In one sequence, he literally steps into the screen and brings his fantasies to life.

Review of Sherlock Jr.

Sherlock Jr. is a hilarious Buster Keaton silent comedy. The concept of someone dreaming of being part of a movie to solve his problem is now quite old. In Sherlock Jr. it’s fresh, and hilarious — and has never been equaled.

Boy meets girl

Buster Keaton holds hands with The Girl

The basic plot has a poor but honest young man (Buster Keaton) working as a movie projectionist, while studying to be a detective. He’s in love with a young lady. Courting her, they’re both sweetly shy — to the point of their trying to hold hands is laugh out loud funny. And sweet as well. He eventually manages to put an engagement ring on her finger. And that’s when the villain of the movie appears — the Sheik.

Not an Arabian sheik, but a rival suitor. Sheik also means someone who’s overly concerned with his appearance, and that fits here. He goes as far as to steal the pocket watch of the girl’s father, pawn it, and plant the pawn ticket on Buster.

Boy loses girl

Soon, the girl’s father throws him out of the house, and the engagement is broken. Buster suspects his rival, and following his textbook, trails his rival. It’s a hilarious bit. In the meanwhile, his girlfriend simply goes to the pawnbroker, who identifies the man who pawned the stolen watch — the sheik!

A despondent Buster is back at work, where he falls asleep in the projection booth while watching a detective movie. He dreams that the movie characters are the people in his personal drama … And he literally walks into the picture! At first it’s hilarious, as the scenes keep changing. But soon, he’s Sherlock Jr. – the world’s greatest detective!

Into the movie

Gillette's magic trick, helping Sherlock Jr. escape

Unlike in real life, Buster as Sherlock Jr. is cool and competent. He’s also has a very competent assistant, who becomes essentials for the chase towards the conclusion of the film. As well as in a hilarious magic trick. The villain (with the help of the girl’s butler) tries to kill Sherlock Jr. with death traps, an exploding pool ball, etc. But Sherlock keeps turning the tables, finally catching the villains & getting the girl.

Boy gets girl back

In the real world, Buster’s fiancee comes to him at work, waking him. The engagement’s back on, and Buster takes a clue from the movie, kissing the girl and ending the movie.

Comedy highlights

There are frankly too many to list — but, here are a few:

  • The “lost dollar” routine outside of the movie theater. It’s totally hilarious, builds, and follows the rule of three.
  • Buster’s trying to shadow the Sheik is absolutely hilarious. The scene where he is deluged with water is where (in real life) he damaged his neck.
  • In the dream sequence, the death traps that keep backfiring.
  • The pool game – where the villains expect Buster to strike an explosive ball.
  • A classic magic trick – Sherlock Jr., escaping gangsters, leaps headfirst through the body of his assistant, Gillette (disguised as an old lady) and disappears through the fence behind him.
  • The chase scene at the end, where Buster is riding on bicycle bars, a bike driven by Gillette … Unaware that Gillette’s fallen off!
Hilarious bike chase in Sherlock Jr.
Hilarious bike chase in Sherlock Jr.

Cast of characters

  • Projectionist / Sherlock, Jr. (Buster Keaton, Seven Chances). The honest young man, studying to be a detective. Our protagonist plays a double role as the confident, supremely capable Sherlock Jr.
  • The Girl (Kathryn McGuire, The Navigator). Buster’s fiancee, who’s both intelligent & capable. She actually solves the problem while Buster’s daydreaming.
  • The Girl’s Father / Man on Film Screen (Joe Keaton, The General). In real life, Buster’s father.
  • The Hired Man / The Butler (Erwin Connelly). As the crooked butler, he’s absolutely hilarious.
  • The Local Sheik / The Villain (Ward Crane). The villain in both movies, and good in both roles.
  • Theater manager / Gillette (Ford West). As Gillette, he’s both indispensable to Sherlock Jr. and hilarious!

Editorial review of Sherlock Jr. courtesy of Amazon.com

A movie projectionist and janitor (Buster Keaton) who is studying to become a detective is in love with a beautiful girl (Kathryn McGuire). On a date he presents her with chocolates and an engagement ring. However, there is another man who’s also interested in his girl (Ward Crane). One day he is accused of stealing his girlfriend’s father’s watch. He falls asleep on the job and dreams that he is a Sherlock Holmes-type detective, solving the case of who stole a valuable pearl necklace.

Previous Post
The Banana Man, Adolph Proper, who performed under the name A. Robbins
Character Clowns

The Banana Man – Adolph Proper, aka. A. Robins

Next Post
Merlin "Shorty" Hinkle
Circus clowns

Shorty Hinkle [circus clown]

%d bloggers like this: