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 scene where Sherlock Jr., escaping some gangsters, leaps headfirst through the body of his assistant, Gillette (who is disguised as an old lady selling neckties), and disappears, Buster Keaton used an old magician's trick. Prior to the trick, Gillette is seen standing with his back against a wooden fence. A section of the fence was sawed out and placed on hinges, so that it opened up and back like a garage door. Ford West (the actor playing Gillette) was then strapped to the underside of the cutaway section, so that when it was opened, West's body was hanging parallel to the ground, but his head and arms stuck out through the upper part of the opening in the fence. The dress and open suitcase were then hung from West's shoulders, so that they hung down in front of the fence, concealing the opening. Both the dress and the suitcase had holes cut in them. With the cameras rolling, Keaton leaped headfirst straight through the hole in the suitcase, the hole in the dress, and the opening in the fence. (He later recalled that he "landed face-first in the dirt" on the other side.) The cutaway fence section was then swung down to close the opening, so that West's body landed perfectly inside the dress. Attendants on the other side of the fence cut the straps holding West's torso and feet to the cutaway section, and West stepped away from the fence as if nothing had happened. In the film, you can see West reach behind his back to close the opening in the dress as he steps from the fence. If you look closely, you can also see the outline of the cutaway section in the fence. 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 »
[to Sherlock Jr. about a man locked in a tight cage]
That's a detective. When he's dead I'll put you in there.
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This movie is breathtaking and astounding. You've heard those things before, but not from me. Today we have few films that combine special effects with a riveting story. Some would say Star Wars did so, and I'd agree to a certain extent, but no movie that I've ever seen work a story integrated with special effects like this one. If you aren't as amazed by this tour de force as I am, check your pulse. You're dead.
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