The art of Buster Keaton is on spectacular display in two of his finest films. The wonderful film "Our Hospitality" (1923, 75 min.) is in many ways a companion piece to Keaton's 1926 masterpiece "The General." It stars Bus... more »ter as a New York man who returns to his southern homeland only to find himself embroiled in a longstanding feud between his family and that of the woman he loves. Perhaps no other film offers as exciting a rollercoaster ride as "Sherlock, Jr." (1924, 44 min.). Dramatizing the uproarious exploits of a meek theater projectionist turned amateur sleuth, the film blends the knockabout physical comedy normally associated with slapstick with more subtly crafted moments of humor.« less
"I am a Buster Keaton fan, even though I had only seen a few of his films until now. My favorite remains "The General" which is a great Civil War adventure with a lot of laughs, too. This Kino DVD, a combo of Sherlock Jr and Our Hospitality, is hilarious! Our Hospitality is the first on the DVD and tells the tale of Buster Keaton's woes when he wanders into an old blood feud between families and spends half the film blissfully unaware that he is a walking bullseye. The film is set in the 1830s and has some hilarious scenes, such as the early railroad trip back to the old homestead (some of the jokes in this part are a prelude to The General) and some great stunt work (Keaton on the edge of a REAL waterfall). And Keaton does all his own stunts, it's amazing he didn't hurt himself more often!Sherlock Jr. is probably one of Keaton's more famous works, but to be honest, I liked the first movie on the DVD more. This one is funny, too, but it's kinda scattered, plot-wise. Keaton plays a movie projectionist who enters his movie (in a dream), solves the mystery, and saves the girl. It's really an excuse for some great special effects (back in those days, at least!). I guess some things never change (I wonder if Sherlock Jr. was a summer film...) but this film is still really really funny. Back to back, these films are funnier and more original than almost anything you'd see in theaters today.Just a few words about the DVD itself - these films are 70+ years old, so they aren't in perfect condition. Our Hospitality has scratches and dust. The source print is ok but looks its age. At least the image is clear with good contrast, unlike a lot of silent films which look all black with patches of white. Sherlock Jr's print source is great! It almost looks new and has great contrast. Plus, the best part is the soundtrack. The Sherlock Jr soundtrack is really jazzy with bits of James Bond/Batman/saxophone music; it doesn't have the typical ragtime piano or organ music you usually hear and it really makes the movie sound fantastic (that's something you don't hear much about silent films...) Too bad there are not extras on the DVD, except for chapter search. I would have liked to see a Keaton biography or filmography, especially since this DVD is a little pricey. Still, a great DVD, and a must for Buster Keaton fans! Get the General, too! Or any of the Chaplin feature films (get them from Image, which has access to the Chaplin vaults and has the best looking films as a result)."
Music purists beware
J. Benjamin | Hamilton, NJ United States | 03/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I don't have too much to add re: the movies themselves, because previous reviewers have covered that territory pretty well. The prints are reasonably good (Sherlock Jr. struck my as *very* clean) and the speed was also pretty good, although I could have used the framespeed maybe just a shade slower here and there, but that's usual for films of this era because they were hand-cranked and usually a tad slower than 24 frames/sec.
I'm a pianist who has played silents for years, first at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and a few years later at the American Museum of the Moving Image. I found the score of Sherlock, Jr. totally distracting and bizarre. Movie scores are best treated like makeup: if you notice it's there its just *too much*. With a frenetic movie like Sherlock Jr. it's simply disasterous to shift music to attempt to make clever commentaries on each scene...the James Bond reference made me groan, and the blues guitar whenever a wooden shack appears in the scene is simply childish and derivative. I think if you're into avant-garde treatment of Buster Keaton movies, I think Bill Frissell did a much better job. Anyway different strokes I suppose, but the Club Foot orchestra turned a happy, brilliant movie into a narsisistic exercise in disconcertive disruptive twaddle.
So I'd recommend turning the sound down for Sherlock Jr. and maybe just putting on of the the Paragon Ragtime albums or Dick Hyman...the movie will be tons more fun that way.
Sherlock Jr.: A genuine legend
Modemac | Cambridge, MA United States | 12/02/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Keaton's "Sherlock Jr." One of the genuine legends of film history. While it's not as tragic as Erich von Stroheim's "Greed," "Sherlock Jr." is an experience that simply must be seen to be believed. Buster Keaton's mastery of physical comedy reached its zenith with this exercise in surrealism that is pure joy from beginning to end. It's only forty minutes long and there's not much of a plot to it -- Keaton plays a projectionist at a movie theater who wants to be a detective, but stumbles at his first attempt to solve a crime. He falls asleep in the movie theater, and his dream-self walks into the movie and takes part in an comedy adventure consisting of stuntwork so incredible, it made my jaw drop when I saw it for the first time. Most of the stunts here are filmed live, and Keaton uses masterful editing to bring them all together. One scene here, where he falls from a water tower onto a railroad track, actually broke his neck in real life -- but he didn't even realize it until a physical examination several years later!"
The Greatest Film Ever and One of the Greatest Films Ever
Jeremy Mathews | 12/08/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Sherlock Jr." is, in addition to hilarious and breathtaking, a remarkable study in how people see film and what illusions exist in the medium. Keaton would never admit it, but this is revoluationary modernism. Even if it isn't, the breathtaking stunts and gags are more than enough. This Kino DVD also uses the 1993 score by the Club Foot Orchestra, one of the best modern scores around."Our Hospitality" was more influential in integrating a classical film narrative into slapstick comedy than on Modernism, and is also a masterpiece. Note the wonderful detail in the sets and an exact replica of Stephenson's "The Rocket," an insane thin little train built in 1829, one year before the film takes place. Detail like that helps to convince us that the gags are real, not merely film effects.Good plot synopsi can be found elsewhere on this page, so I won't include any."
A double feature to treasure
Joe Libby | 11/25/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Two of Buster Keaton's best feature films are showcased on this cassette, in beautiful video trasfers. OUR HOSPITALITY is Buster's take on the Hatfield and McCoy feud (the families here are called Canfield and McKay). Perhaps even more impressive than the very impressive comedy are the production itself: the sets, costumes, and props seem more authentic than those for most dramas set in the mid-1800's. This attention to detail truly enhances the comedy. SHERLOCK, JR. gets my vote as Buster's best feature. A wild film that parodies the detective films of the era, SHERLOCK, JR. contains some eye-popping effects that were done live on the set (the JURASSIC PARK age of special effects being some 70 years off). Fortunately for Keaton, he was his own best special effect. The film has been influential to modern film makers: Woody Allen stated that THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO was inspired by SHERLOCK, JR., and Arnold Schwarzenegger's THE LAST ACTION HERO is a reworking of SHERLOCK, JR.'s basic plotline."