Sherlock, Jr.

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(1924, directed by Buster Keaton)

- inducted 2014 –

“The trailblazing, leading funnymen of the silent-movie era – Chaplin, Lloyd, Arbuckle – appeared to be always ready and willing to do anything and/or everything for a laugh. But Buster Keaton, that stone-faced clown, seemed like a guy who was willing to die for his comedy. It’s surprising he didn’t die while making Sherlock, Jr.; after all, he notoriously broke his neck while performing a stunt on a railroad water tank – and, yet, he didn’t realize it until years later.

“Released in 1924, Sherlock, Jr. is 44 minutes of Keaton (as a movie projectionist/wannabe detective who daydreams of being a debonair, private dick) basically giving zero fucks about his safety. From getting off the roof of a building and lowered in the backseat of a car with help from a crossing gate to riding on the handlebars of a runaway motorcycle, dodging trains, cars and whatever else gets in his path, Keaton pulls off enough ingenious, daredevil feats to make you wonder if dude had a death wish.

“But Sherlock, Jr. does more than show off Keaton’s fearless physicality. As the director, his flair for visual wit and wizardry -- most exemplified in the scene where Keaton’s character steps into a movie screen and bounces through several different film locales – virtually went into overdrive. As you watch Keaton fool around with the moving image, both behind and in front of the camera, you realize that Sherlock, Jr. is one of the earliest examples of a filmmaker going meta and fully recognizing the joyful, limitless transcendence that comes from watching movies.

“So, even if you prefer Chaplin’s sentimental slapstick or Lloyd’s athletic antics or Arbuckle’s girthy gags, you have to admit that Buster Keaton was one of the first filmmakers to let audiences know that, no matter how impossible, implausible or downright insane it might seem, anything can happen at the movies.” ~ Craig Lindsey

Principal cast: Buster Keaton, Kathryn McGuire, Joe Keaton, Erwin Connelly, Ward Crane
Story by Jean C. Havez & Joe Mitchell and Clyde Bruckman
Photography by Byron Houck, Elgin Lessley
Art direction by Fred Gabourie
Film editing by Buster Keaton
Costume design by Clare West (uncredited)
Stunts by Ernie Orsatti (uncredited)
Presented by Joseph M. Schenck

Duration: 45 minutes
Languages: Silent with English intertitles
Filmed in black and white
Sound mix: Silent
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Produced by Buster Keaton Productions
Released in USA by Metro Pictures Corporation
Premiered in USA on 21 April 1924

Awards and honors:
- National Film Registry selection, 1991
- Selected as one of Roger Ebert’s “Great Movies,” 20 November 2002