Friday, February 10, 2006

Sherlock Jr. (1924)

A wonderful example of excellent customer service

Silent Comedy Family Romance Short

Starring: Buster Keaton (The Cameraman; Spite Marriage), Ward Crane

Directed By: Buster Keaton (The Navigator; The General)

Overview: A man working in a theater with aspirations of becoming a detective gets framed by a rival suitor. Will the world's second best detective solve the crime?

Acting: The melodrama isn't raging, and that's a great thing, always. Buster and Ward have great chemistry as protagonist / antagonist and everyone is well directed. Who knew a man who did his own stunts could also direct this well? The water tower scene in this film caused a fracture in Buster's neck so severe that he had migraines from then on. Nuts I tell you!
Rating: 8

Cinematography: This movie is super original. One scene has Buster going into the movie screen and interacting with the film itself. He has to contend with quickly shifting settings from crashing waves to snow fields and a den of lions. The stunts are also very elaborate and plentiful. A real experience.
Rating: 9

Script: There's a few funny lines, but silent film is usually all about plot and script is something rarely focused on in this genre. At least it didn't detract.
Rating: 7

Plot: The fantasy versus reality dream sequence thing is turning out to be a pretty common idea in cinema, I've come to realize. Buster doesn't make it old hat though. He takes the fantasy and rolls with it. As for the actual evil suitor getting his vengeance, I won't ruin it for you, but the story was fantastic.
Rating: 8

Mood: This takes the cake. The stunts, the damsel in distress, the Keaton in that dress, the flow and style of this film is a true testament to the unique and unmatchable style that is Keaton. His timing is fantastic, his stories are hilarious while still carrying contemporary weight.
Rating: 9

A little vintage erotica makes for a nice change of pace...

Overall Rating: 82% (Study This One Carefully)

Aftertaste: People are predisposed to hating old movies. I know when I was young, those romantic melodramas that played out like soaps on Public Television during Pledge Week were so terrible that it made me want to curl up and die of boredom. I'm not looking forward to studying those, but as I approach the midpoint of the silent movie era, I realize that the stuff that will stick with me are not the great dramas and epic film, but the comedies, because they're so much better than the ones you find today.