- Format: AC-3, Dolby, Silent, Special Edition, NTSC
- Language: English
- Region: Region A/1
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Studio: Kino Lorber films
- Release Date: Nov. 16 2010
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- ASIN: B0041CGOZI
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #65,367 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
SHERLOCK JR./THREE AGES [Blu-ray]
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SHERLOCK JR.: A movie projectionist and janitor (Buster Keaton) who is studying to become a detective is in love with a beautiful girl (Kathryn McGuire). On a date he presents her with chocolates and an engagement ring. However, there is another man who's also interested in his girl (Ward Crane). One day he is accused of stealing his girlfriend's father's watch. He falls asleep on the job and dreams that he is a Sherlock Holmes-type detective, solving the case of who stole a valuable pearl necklace.
THREE AGES: Three plots in three different historical periods—prehistoric times, ancient Rome, and modern times (the Roaring Twenties)—are intercut to prove the point that men's love for woman have not significantly changed throughout history. In all three plots, characters played by Buster Keaton and Wallace Beery compete for the attention of the same woman, played by Margaret Leahy.
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Surveying the eternal battle for love and glory in the Stone Age, Ancient Rome, and the Age of Prohibition, Three Ages was constructed as three thematically linked short subjects that could easily be un-linked and distributed separately if the longer film was not well received. In each segment the object of Buster's affection was Margaret Leahy, and his villainous rival was Wallace Beery. Riding dinosaurs in the Stone Age, chariots in Rome, and automobiles in the 1920s, Buster battled his larger foe for the hand of the lovely Miss Leahy.
Extras for Three Ages include excerpts from D.W. Griffiths' "Man's Genesis" of 1912, a survey of shooting locations for Three Ages, and three re-cuts of the film into stand-alone short films. Unlike Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, who owned the rights to their films and carefully protected the negatives and prints, Keaton's films were relatively neglected. Serious nitrate decomposition shows in the last part of Three Ages, the segment depicting the "present day" (1923). But the film is eminently watchable nonetheless.
This Kino Blu-ray release of Three Ages is packaged with Sherlock Jr., now one of Keaton's most popular feature length films, although not particularly successful at the time of its release in 1924. Sherlock Jr. has Keaton as a daydreaming movie projectionist who wants to be a detective. Displaying Keaton's skill as a film innovator, Sherlock Jr. has some of the earliest and best camera effects, clever and enjoyable today, but breathtaking in 1924. Extras include an audio commentary, a documentary on the making of the film, and a video "essay" about shooting locations.
The silent era would begin its rapid collapse less than five years after the release of Three Ages, but in the meantime Keaton would produce over a half dozen classic comedies that are among the finest films in cinematic history. Both Keaton and his screen rival from Three Ages, Wallace Beery, had rough and gravelly voices. For Beery this was no problem, as it fit his physique and the roles he played. But for Buster the advent of sound was the death knell for his career. He made a few sound films that were unsuccessful, then he appeared in occasional cameo bits in films such as Sunset Boulevard and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. His star faded, but has blazed increasingly brightly since his death, as better copies of his films have become available for home video. One of Hollywood's true originals and a genius of motion picture inventiveness, Buster Keaton has achieved a place of honor in the history of film, and in the hearts of his growing number of fans.
As Keaton comedy goes, both movies are great fun. The pairing is intriguing. Buster was playing with movies and moviemaking in both films. "Three Ages" is a takeoff on Griffith's "Intolerance," intertwining love stories from three epochs--Buster attempting to win Margaret Leahy from the blustery Wallace Beery. The stories and gags are more akin to what Buster had been doing in his short subjects. Kino has gone so far as to present a re-edit, showing how the segments would have appeared as individual short subjects had the feature release failed.
"Sherlock Jr." shows Keaton in his stride as a feature film comedian. The humor is more character driven, the storyline more complex, and the complications build to a breathtaking climax. Keaton continues to play with medium as he did with "Three Ages," but with greater sophistication.
If you have these features in Kino's previous boxed dvd set, this "ultimate edition" set may not interest you unless you want the extras. The image quality of both films has not improved markedly over previous releases. "Three Ages" is marred by several patches of nitrate "hypo," some of which disrupts the rhythm of the movie. The quality of "Sherlock Jr." is mostly excellent, but there is a section or two that appear to have been derived from a lesser source. It's not as disruptive as the decomposition in "Three Ages," but it is a letdown.
This is also an instructive set in regard to the effect of musical scoring. The Mont Alto and Club Foot orchestra scores take different approaches to underscoring the comedy, both with interesting effects. The Jay Ward-created score is an interesting artifact, and while a game try, truly illustrates how far we've come in silent film accompaniement since the initial revivals of the '50s and '60s.
I hadn't purchased these movies since the laserdisk set, so this "ultimate edition" was worthwhile for me. It may be less so for others.
This movie deserves 10 stars especially considering what passes for 5 stars on Amazon.
Not to be missed!!