Welcome to The Best Movies I’ve Never Seen! This is the part of the blog where I work my way through 100 films I’ve never seen that are generally considered to be great. You’re invited to watch along with me if you can find a copy or find it streaming. So grab some popcorn and let’s get started!
Directed by Buster Keaton
Quick synopsis… Buster Keaton stars as a movie theater projectionist who dreams of becoming a super-sleuth and, in one breathtaking sequence, literally steps into the screen to bring his fantasies to life.
Okay… So this is a difficult to find movie. And it’s hard to call it a movie because it’s only about 45 minutes long. But I guess that meets the criteria for the Academy of Motion Pictures to make it a feature length film.
Anyway, when I first put together this list of films, I did a quick search to see where I could find most of them. Some are available on one or many streaming services. Some you have to pay to stream. Others I’ve had to rely on Netflix’s old DVD through the mail service or even the local library.
But there are a handful of films that made this list that are next to impossible to find. Which shouldn’t be too surprising, honestly. Thanks to studio rights and the rights to music and all sorts of legal issues, there are tons of movies and TV shows out there that are just tied up in limbo that we may never get to see again.
For example (and this is off topic so I apologize), the Ron Howard classic Cocoon cannot be found streaming anywhere and the last time it was released on DVD or Blu-ray was in the early 2000s. Nothing’s been done for that movie since because music rights to some song that was used in the movie have expired and studios aren’t willing to pay what it takes to hold on to those rights just to re-release the movie for streaming. Nothing against artists who want to be paid and recognized for their work, but sometimes musicians just need to lighten up on all this legal jazz.
But I digress…
Sherlock Jr. has been on and off of the internet’s radar since I started this movie list late last year. For a while, I couldn’t find it anywhere. Today, I can find it on several streaming platforms as long as I’m willing to pay extra to see it. I hate paying extra…
I’m also not the biggest fan of a silent film. But since this one is only about 45 minutes long, I forebear.
Before now, I don’t think I’ve seen anything of Buster Keaton’s work. However, much like Charlie Chaplin, Keaton is a fantastic physical comedian. I think if one hoped to be a success in the world of silent film, one would have to be good at physical comedy.
Keaton plays a movie theater projectionist with aspirations of becoming a detective. He’s in love with a girl that he wants to impress with a box of chocolates. But he can only afford the $1.00 box when he’d like to get her the $3.00 box. But he’s still sneaky and changes the 1 on the box he purchases to look like a 4.
The projectionist has a rival for the girl’s affections who is also short on funds for the chocolates, but he resorts to stealing the girl’s father’s pocket watch, pawning it off for $4.00. When the watch turns up missing, the rival slips the pawn receipt into the projectionist’s pocket and it’s made to look like he’s the thief.
Keaton is then banned from seeing the girl and he returns to his work as a projectionist. While showing a film, he falls asleep and dreams that he enters the movie, becoming Sherlock Jr., the world’s greatest detective. By the way, the scene where the dreaming projectionist enters the movie is an impressive feat considering the technology of the day.
In the end, the projectionist wakes up and is found to be innocent of the thievery, since the girl was able to go to the pawn shop to discover that it was the other guy who tried to pawn off the watch. And they lived happily ever after.
Well, I’m not sure I have much else to say about Sherlock Jr. I mean, as a silent film, it is what it is in my book. I’m still not the biggest fan and would much rather watch a talkie. But, as I said with Keaton’s transition from the theater house to the screen, much of the film making techniques utilized are impressive considering how early in the film industry this movie was made.
Having now seen Sherlock Jr., it ranks at 2,055 out of 2,261 movies on my personal Flickchart list. Wow… that’s pretty low on the list. Sorry, Buster…
Have you ever seen Sherlock Jr.? Have you seen other works by Buster Keaton? How do they compare? Should I go back and give this one another shot and try harder not to let my bias against silent pictures ruin it for me? Let me know what you think down in the comments!