A meek and mild projectionist, who also cleans up after screenings, would like nothing better than to be a private detective. He becomes engaged to a pretty girl but a ladies man known as the Sheik vies for her affection. He gets rid of the projectionist by stealing a pocket watch belonging to the girl's father - which he pawns to buy her an expensive box of candy. He then slips the pawn ticket into the projectionist's pocket and subsequently is found by the police. He doesn't have much luck but in his dreams, he the debonair and renowned detective Sherlock Jr. who faces danger and solves the crime. In real life, the girl solves crimes quickly. Written by
For the sequence in which Buster Keaton's "dream-self" enters the "movie within a movie," Keaton employed the power of suggestion. He shot an actual movie featuring Ward Crane and Kathryn McGuire in a living room setting. As the sequence begins, the movie is playing on the theater movie screen. The film cuts back and forth between Buster sleeping in the projection booth, and his "dream-self" climbing on stage as the movie is showing. In the scene where Buster's "dream-self" steps through the movie screen and into the movie, the living room setting was re-created on the theater stage, and a large hole was cut in the movie screen for Keaton to step through. The actors were placed in the living room setting, creating the illusion that Buster stepped inside the movie screen to join them. See more »
After Sherlock Jr spins the fence around placing his pursuers behind it, he puts a crossbar across the gate to stop them coming back. In the next shot as he leaves the alley, the crossbar is no longer visible on the fence. See more »
There is an old proverb which says: Don't try to do two things at once and expect to do justice to both. This is the story of a boy who tried it. While employed as a moving picture operator in a small town theater he was also studying to be a detective.
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Not only is this Buster Keaton's best film, but it is among the greatest achievements in the history of cinema, period. While it is not a feature-length film--and thus barred from most critics' lists of great films--it invented just about every single basic special effect known to movies (except for morphing). The story itself, about a film projectionist who desires to become part of the movies, and then does, by walking right onto the screen, made palpable the desire that we all have to be in the movies: To get the girl, to be an action hero, to outsmart the bad guys. Keaton invented meta-cinema before anyone even had a phrase for it.
This movie has entered our dreams.
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