Comedy / Family
1924 / 44 minutes
If you want to get your kids interested in the golden oldies, Sherlock Jr. may be the perfect introduction. This is a black-and-white classic with the frenetic pace of a Saturday morning cartoon – the action never stops!
Buster Keaton plays the part of a movie theater janitor/projectionist who has ambitions about becoming a great detective and winning the hand of a certain beautiful girl.
But he’s not the only fellow interested in the lass. Standing in his way is a tall, dark, and handsome rival who, we quickly find out, has no scruples – when no one’s looking this scoundrel steals a watch from the girl’s dad. But wait, there’s a theft? Isn’t this an opportunity for a detective wannabe to show his stuff? Buster offers to do an investigation, but he is humiliated twice over when the clever scoundrel frames him for the theft, and then the girl’s father asks Buster to leave and never come back.
Things are looking bad for Buster, but the story just keeps getting better and better. Dejected, Buster returns to the theater in time for the afternoon showing and gets the movie started. But as it’s playing, he falls asleep, and in his dream he joins in on the action.
It just so happens to be a detective story. And it just so happens that Buster dreams himself in as the suave and savvy star detective. In this film within the film it goes a lot better for Buster, as he brilliantly tricks and evades a whole horde of villains.
The best action scene in the movie is when Buster, in hot pursuit of the villains, hops on the front handlebars of a motorbike being driven by his trusted sidekick. But, unbeknownst to Buster, just as the motorbike started off, his sidekick fell off – Buster is on it alone, up front on the handlebars of the speeding bike, urging the absent driver to be a little more careful about the way he’s driving!
But what’s going to happen when Buster wakes up? Well, even as he’s solving mysteries in his dream world, his beautiful girl is figuring out things in the real one.
There are moments of peril, and a brief occasion or two of fisticuffs that might be a bit scary for the very young.
At just 44 minutes, and jammed pack with action, this might be the best silent film to share with modern audiences. And – added bonus! – this film is so old it is in the public domain, and can be watched for free in the video below.