Poster of the Day: Sherlock Jr.

sherlock-jr-movie-poster-1924-1020143174Russian Sherlock. Jr poster, 1924

This poster stumped pretty much everyone in our recent film quiz – perhaps because of its tricky graphics, or perhaps because the film is not as well-known amongst contemporary film-lovers as it should be! With his trademark stoney face, Buster Keaton makes for an earnest hero, battling the wrong-doings of a rival over the affections of a beautiful girl.

For those used to the more pointed, polished and faster-paced humour of Chaplin, Sherlock Jr can come across as a little slow at points and the excellent visual comedy has a much more naturalistic feel, delivering something of a rawer result. But there are fantastic examples of his comic and film-making genius here. The movie is one of the first examples of a film-within-a-film, when Keaton’s character – a lowly projectionist at a local theatre – falls asleep and imagines himself leaping into the film being screened, creating quite a surreal scene and perfectly illustrating Keaton’s ability to think outside the usual slapstick comedy box. In this new, meta-storyline, Keaton’s character becomes a great detective whose objective is to show the true nature of his rival’s character.

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And, of course, there are also plenty of slapstick moments, including the famous ‘shadowing scene’:

sherlock-jr-4Other visual gags abound, but amongst them are stunts that make the jaw drop; stunts that clearly must have been carried out with extreme precision but which are, none the less, delivered in Keaton’s characteristic loose and raw style, making them appear utterly haphazard.

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And, of course, there’s the sublime pool-playing scene, where Keaton’s character manages to pot every ball whilst avoiding hitting the booby-trapped ball – all in the most nonchalant, off-hand manner imaginable. Yep. Sublime.

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posted by Dixie Turner

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