Sherlock Jr. (Buster Keaton, 1924)
I discovered Buster Keaton's comedies a while after I've seen all the Chaplin feature films. So I had a little to very huge preference for the little Tramp. Well, after seing The General I was sold to say that the competition between the two comedians was just good for the public. Even if I think that each did something the other wasn't doing, Buster Keaton with his almost permanent sad unexpressive face doing daredevil stunts on trains, cars, motorcycles etc. And Chaplin playing a lot with his skills as a face actor and handy jugglers of any kind. Moreover, Chaplin's films are more feminine than Keaton's bravados of danger and white clown. Well, that's this critics' view on both men.
Sherlock Jr. is the story of a poor projectionnist in love with the daughter a rich man of his little town. He dreams of being the next Sherlock Holmes by solving crimes. But he is challenged by another man for the heart of the young lady. The antagonist stragely looks like a "dandier" version of Chaplin's little Tramp: the hat, little mustache and an older man in love with a much younger woman. Another interesting issue is the fact that the antagonist must steal to get what he has, a lot like the Tramp that will never let an opportunity to steal a bagel or a fancy pastry...
On the level of Keaton's stunts, they are simply amazing, especially the motorcycle ride that is completely unbelievable! Even if the effect of fast forwarding the film gives more time to Keaton to control the situation he is still on the bike and doing the other stunts! For its time, Sherlock Jr. has some very ionteresting effects, like when Keaton enters in the film that is projected on the movie screen and interacting with the elements displayed.
The only failure of the film is how thin the plot is. We understand already that this won't be a tragedy whe we sit in front of this kind of comedy, but I thought that the story could have had more meat to it. At some point I thought that the story was there to link the stunts together only... But the degree of entertainment is so high that we forgive this flaw, if it's one and just enjoy the great film!
To all silent films lovers Sherlock Jr. is a must see and its lenght just give you the envy to watch more movies from this great performer that was Buster Keaton.