Buster Keaton is one of those people that can make any movie great just by having his name attached to it. When you’re watching one of his movies, you’re not just watching it, you’re experiencing it. He has long been considered to be one of the all-time great comedic actors and directors, and when you watch Sherlock Jr, it’s not hard to understand why.
Keaton plays a movie projectionist who dreams of becoming a detective. He gets his chance when his rival steals his girlfriend’s father’s pocket watch and frames him for the crime. Despite this not-so-cheery plotline, the movie is incredibly funny and heart-warming. It’s a continuous stream of good, unadulterated slapstick comedy that is just delightful to watch. Not only that, but it is also a fantastically innovative film, both in terms of technique and themes, such as the juxtaposition between dreams and reality, later used in many movies.
Keaton’s arch-enemy in the film, played by Ward Crane – looking a little too much like Boycie from Only Fools and Horses for my liking –, is the prototypical anti-hero. Kathryn McGuire joins them as the girl they’re fighting over, who is as lovely as can be. In many ways, perhaps more than we can accurately determine, this film is one of the most influential ever. And it’s still as fresh and enjoyable now as it was back in 1924. If you haven’t seen it, for goodness’ sake, put it on your list!