Feature Comedy | 1920 | Silent | B/W
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Ingenious silent comedy with some unbelievable stunts. Buster Keaton is a projectionist who becomes a famous detective in his dreams and solves a difficult case.
Intertitle: '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 theatre he was also studying to be a detective.'
Buster Keaton, sitting in the last row in an empty cinema reading a book. He wears his famous hat. A broom in the aisle, sticking out of a heap of garbage, leans against the seat next to his. Close up. Keaton reading the book 'How to be a detective.' He holds the book up in front of his face, covering the part of his face below the nose. He puts the book on his knees and reveals a large false moustache sticked under his nose that makes him look like Hercule Poirot. He licks his thumb, presses it against the back side of the book and analyzes the fingerprint with a magnifying glass. He puts the magnifying glass in his coat pocket and continues reading. His boss arrives, reading a book, and stumbles into the heap of garbage. He look at the garbage, then at Keaton. His face gets a very angry expression, he shouts at Keaton. 'Say - Mr. Detective - before you clean up my mysteries - clean up this theatre.' Keaton gets up immediately, starts sweeping and his boss leaves, still angry. Keaton sweeps and kicks the heap away, taking his moustache off. 'The girl in the case - Kathryn McGuire'. Fade in: the girl, curly dark hair, wearing a dress, sits on the grass in the garden. Bushes and a sprinkler in the background. Next to her sits a huge dog, almost as big as the girl. She shares a piece of cake with the dog and talks to him. 'The girl's father had nothing to do so he got a hired man to help him - Joe Keaton, Erwin Connelly.' Connelly, arms folded and wearing a hat, amused, talking (in the garden). Joe Keaton, grinning, answering. Buster, still sweeping his heap of garbage, in the entry hall of the cinema. Some film posters at the wall. He turns the front of a board to the camera: 'To-Day: Hearts & Pearls or The Lounge-Lizard's lost love in five parts.' He sweeps the board shortly, then goes off to the left. In the street, with his broom. On the left hand side a confectionery, we see through the windows a girl working inside. Keaton goes to the shop window, stops and looks inside. Close-up: A box of chocolates. '$ 1.00 Per Box'. Buster, seen from inside the shop. He sneers contemptuously, looks at a different box. Close-up: A box with a ribbon and the picture of a noble lady on it. '$ 3.00 Per Box'. Buster searches his pockets and finds two crumpled 1-$-notes. He looks sad and shakes his head. Then he has an idea, walks quickly into the shop, puts his broom on the counter, points to the 3-$-box in the window. May he get it for two dollars? The girl shakes her head. No, three dollars. Buster takes his broom and leaves. A piece of paper sticks at the bristles. Close-up of the girl, being amused. Buster back in the entry hall of the cinema, he sweeps. Suddenly he notices the piece of paper at his broom. He tries to shake it off. In vain. He puts the bristles on the floor and steps on the piece of paper, lifts the broom. The piece of paper sticks no longer to the broom but to his shoe. He tries to shake it off. In vain. He steps on it with his other foot and lifts the first one. Now the paper sticks to his other shoe. He grabs for the paper with his left hand. Now it sticks to his hand. He grabs it with the other hand. Now it sticks to the right hand. He hears a sound, turns and kneels down next to a curtain, the entry. He puts the hand on the floor. His boss enters through the curtain, counting money, steps on the piece of paper and walks away, the paper sticking at his shoe: - 'The local sheik. - Ward Crane.' A well-dressed man (Crane) arrives in front of the shop-window, stops, searching his pockets and finds nothing. He notices that the girl is watching him through the window, is embarrassed, lifts his hat and walks away. Buster finds a dollar-note in his heap of garbage. He drops his broom, takes his coat out of a dustbin and wants to leave. A woman arrives, searching the heap. Keaton stops. 'Can I help you?' 'I lost a dollar - did you find it?' 'In this heap?' The lady nods. Buster admits he found it. He turns to the side and looks at the note: 'Describe it.' The girl describes it and Buster gives it back to her. Now he has only two dollars left, again. An old lady, crying, arrives, searching the heap. 'Can I help you?' 'I lost a dollar.' Buster, very sad, describes it inquiringly, then gives it back to her. Keaton, sad, uses her handkerchief. She leaves. Now he has only one dollar left. He wants to leave as he notices a man searching the heap. 'Can I help you?' The man gets up, staring at Buster. Close-up of his very grim face. Buster offers his last dollar, but the man doesn't want it. He searches the heap and finds a wallet, takes out a bundle of notes and leaves, counting them. Buster is bewildered, jumps to the heap, rummaging it, but he doesn't find anything. He takes his dollar, runs to the shop and buys the 1-$-box. He arrives in front of the girl's house, takes out the box. Close-up: He changes the 1 into a 4. Walks and jumps into the house. The girl runs down the stairs. She opens the door, and Buster gets in. They walk to the staircase, shyly. Buster carries his hat in one hand and the box of chocolates in the other, hiding it behind his back. They turn, the girl suggests to go into the sitting-room. Buster agrees. They go off left. Crane arrives at the girl's house, cleans his shoes at his trouser-legs and enters the house. He arrives at the staircase and looks through the curtain into the sitting-room. Buster and the girl sitting next to each other in the sitting-room. Buster, shyly, gives the box to the girl. The girl smiles and touches it. Buster turns the box over (while looking in a different direction) so that she can see the price. Crane, watching this, thinks. He wants to impress the girl as well, but he doesn't have money. He searches the pockets of a coat at the coat rack, finds a watch and put it into his pockets. He leaves. Buster and the girl. Buster takes a tiny ring out of his pockets, takes the hand of the girl and puts the ring on a finger. The girl is surprised, happy. 'For me?' Buster nods. Then she looks at the ring, and her face shows disappointment. Close up of her hand with a very very very small ring. The girl looks at the ring, Buster takes out his magnifying glass and hands it to her. She takes it and looks through it at the ring. Buster takes the glass away again and puts it into his pocket. The girl thanks him with a forced smile. Shop front: 'I. Goldman & Co., pawnbrokers. Buy and sell everything.' Crane leaves the shop, counting money. Buster and girl sitting next to each other, frozen, staring in front of them. Very slowly they move their hands closer together. Crane in the confectionery, pointing at the big box of chocolates. The girl takes it out of the window; Crane buys it. Buster finally dares putting his hand on the girl's. The girl looks pleased. Buster takes back his hand. The girl is disappointed and angry. She puts her hand decidedly on the sofa for Buster to touch it. Buster touches it. They both are electrified. Suddenly Crane arrives and gives the box of chocolates to the girl. Buster is annoyed. Crane asks the girl into the adjacent room. Buster wants to follow them but Crane draws the curtain in the door frame. Buster walks a u-turn and sits down on the sofa, then gets up angrily and opens the curtain, sits down again. We see the girl and Crane standing next to each other, turning their back to Buster and talking vividly. Buster joins them. He is given a banana by Crane and sent away. He sits on the sofa, peels the banana and drops the peel cautiously on the floor. Then he waves for Crane to come to him (He wants him to slip on the peel). Crane comes only a bit closer, then goes back to the girl. As he kisses her hand, Buster jumps up, wants to walk to him and slips on the banana peel. He is annoyed and sits again. The father arrives with the jacket. 'Someone has stolen my watch!' The girl and a servant shake their heads, they don't know anything about it. Buster gets out his detective-book and reads. Crane spots him and is worried. He looks over Buster's shoulder.
'How to be a detective.
Rule 1: Search everybody
Rule 2: Look for clue
Rule 3: Examine all windows
Rule 4: Search for fingerprints'
Crane puts the pawnbroker's receipt for the watch in Busters pockets, goes off and joins the others. 'It looks like a job for the police.' The father agrees and is about to get the police, when Buster stops him. 'I'll take charge of this case and start by searching everybody.' He searches the father. 'Hey - I'm the fellow who lost the watch.' Buster searches the servant, the chambermaid, Crane and the girl (he is very cautious with the girl and the chambermaid). 'Why don't you search him, too?', Crane asks. Buster agrees, reluctantly. The father searches him and finds the receipt. Close-up: 'Watch & Chain, $ 4.00'. Buster is surprised, shakes his head. The father scratches his head. Crane looks contented, spots the box of chocolates Buster gave to the girl and passes it to the father. Close up of box and receipt: '$ 4.00 - $ 4.00'. Keaton denies to have stolen the watch. The girl looks sad, goes off. Father: 'I'm sorry, my boy, but we never want to see you in this house again.' Crane picks up Buster's hat from the floor, clears it from dust. Buster takes it and leaves. He goes to the girl that is leaning against the stairs, crying. He tries to explain, but the girl just gives the ring back to him. Buster takes it
( Beginning of film no. 002692 )
and leaves. The girl, crying. Buster on the veranda, Crane walks out of the house. Buster looks at his book: 'Rule 5: Shadow your man closely.
'Rule 6: Send for police.
'Rule 7: Keep cool.' ( Cf. film no. 002692 )
He runs past Crane. We track Crane walking down the pavement. Buster catches up and walks, unnoticed, about 10 inches behind him. Suddenly Crane stops, picks up a cigarette. Buster also stops. Crane walks on, puffs three times, throws the cigarette over the shoulder. Buster catches it, puffs three times, throws it away. They both stumble a bit, Buster still 10 inches behind Crane, unnoticed. A street. A car arrives, Crane steps back, crosses the road. Buster performs the same movements at the same time. A wagon on a track. Crane stops. Buster hides behind the wagon. A second wagon crushes against the first one, Buster stands in the gap. He runs after Crane. A locomotive releases steam and hits Buster. Crane walking up stairs; Buster, head down, behind him, misses the stairs and runs against a wall. He runs after Crane. In front of a wagon with an open door. Crane spots Buster; Buster wants to be inconspicuous and walks into the wagon. Crane closes the doors, locks them. The train. A worker lifts the outlet of a water tank, walks away. Buster emerges from the next wagon, climbs on its top. The train starts to move. Keaton runs atop the wagons, then grabs for the outlet. The train is gone, and the outlet, with Buster, clinging to it, goes down. A jet of water smashes him on the tracks. He gets up. A pump-trolley with two men comes along and is derailed. The men fall on the tracks, get wet, get up, spot Buster and chase him. He runs away. 'As a detective he was all wet, so he went back to see what he could do to his other job.' ( cf. film no. 002692 )
( Insert film no. 002692 )
In the cinema.
( End of film no. 002692 )
A small orchestra with a piano player. On the screen two lovers in a big room. (This scene runs parallel to the theft of the watch and is played by the same actors, just in more elegant dresses) The girl leaves the room. The father searches a cupboard. He calls. Girl, servant and Crane arrive. He shows them an empty case: 'Someone has stolen the pearls.' He and the girl leave. Crane gives the pearls to the servant. They smile. The father at the phone. Crane and servant are frightened, because he is sending for the world's greatest detective - Sherlock Jr. But the servant has an idea. 'Don't worry!' - They go into the pool billiard room. The servant shows two balls with the number 13. He goes to the window and throws one in the garden. It lands close to a tree, a huge explosion, and the tree is blasted away. Crane is impressed, takes the other no. 13, shakes it and throws it in the air. 'Be careful!' The servant leads Crane to a chair with a hook under its seat. He presses the hook. A hatchet crashes down on the chair. The servant put it back on its proper place on the wall. A hand with a white glove, pressing the doorbell. Servant, Crane, father and girl go to the entrance hall. 'The crime-crushing criminologist - Sherlock Jr.' buster, with cane, coat and top hat, all in black, enters. He gives his coat to the servant and examines closely the faces of girl, father and Crane. Then he walks to the cupboard. 'Don't bother to explain. This is a simple case for me.' He walks into the billiard room. The servant wipes the chair for him to sit down. He nearly sits, but then Crane arrives and Buster joins him at the pool table. The servant put some poison in a drink. He brings a tray with two drinks to Buster and Crane. Buster takes the poisoned one, notices that Crane doesn't have a drink and gives it to him. He takes the other drink. The servant prevents Crane from drinking: 'Pardon, sir. I think there is something in your drink.' He takes it away. Crane gives Buster a cue. Buster nearly sits on the chair, then takes a shot, nearly pushing the servant on the chair. Buster goes in a corner to put chalk on his cue, meanwhile the servant replaces the number 13 of the balls with the bomb, putting the proper ball into a case. Keaton, in front of a mirror, chalking his cue. - Crane plays cautiously. Then it is Keaton's turn. He wildly moves the cue forwards and backwards, and servant and Crane leave the room. Servant and Crane outside, servant peering inside. Buster. Close-up of the balls. Buster takes a shot. All the balls move, but the 13 doesn't. Next shot: Buster misses the 13 only just. Another shot, the same. Servant and Crane. Crane asking what has happened. Servant explaining that everything moved but the 13. Another shot: 4 balls in front of the 13 fly away, the 13 doesn't move. Servant shakes his head. Crane, annoyed. Servant explains. Two balls in front of the 13 fly away. Servant despairs. Buster pots a dark ball (it hits the cushions first and misses the 13 only just). Buster, moving the cue. Buster, potting a ball. The white ball hits the cushions twice, misses the 13. Servant, explaining that it was close. Buster, taking a swerve shot so that the white ball goes a half circle around the 13, potting a ball. Servant, describing the circle. Buster, making the white ball jump over the 13, potting it (the white one). Servant, describing the jump. Buster, taking two balls out of the pockets, arranging them. Calling for Crane. Servant. Buster, waiting. Crane arrives, shoots cautiously. Buster, taking a shot with all his power, making the white ball jump off the table. He tries to catch it, Crane runs away. Servant outside, Crane arriving. Buster, potting the 13. (It does not explode). He leaves. Servant and Crane, outside. Buster passes them boldly. The servant examines the 13 and throws it angrily on the table. Then he looks for the other 13 in the case. It is gone. Meanwhile Crane puts his foot on the seat, the hatchet falls down, and the servant empties the poisoned drink, realizes and spits it out again. Buster in front of the house. He takes the 13 out of his pocket (the bomb), it falls nearly to the ground.
The next day. Keaton in his house. His servant, Gilette, passing him his cane. Keaton dusts his coat in front of what looks like a mirror - but it is a door, Keaton walks through it into the next room. He opens what looks like a safe but is the front door. He leaves. Crane in a car. Buster hides behind a mast. Crane stops and enters a house. Buster follows. Crane spots him and pretends to have climbed on the ceiling by dropping his hat on the base of a ladder. He hides. Buster finds the hat, climbs up the ladder. Crane closes the hatch. Keaton on the ceiling. He is trapped. Crane jumps into his car and starts it. Keaton jumps at a pole and lowers himself into the leaving car, on the back seat (great stunt). The car passes. Keaton relaxed in the back seat. Clutched at the spare wheel a man holding a big white disk. They arrive at the house where some gangsters hide. Crane enters. Keaton spots the man at the spare wheel, fights against him, but then notices that it is his assistant. Gilette shows him the disk: It is a box with a dress in it. Keaton arranges the dress in the box. Crane shows the pearls to the gangsters. Buster puts the disk into a window frame. He poses in front of the door, the gangsters spot him and pull him inside. They examine him and take his revolver. One of them steals his watch. Suddenly Buster has a watch in his hand, examines it. It is the gangster's. They exchange the stolen watches. Crane points to the adjacent room, Buster looks inside. A man rattles at the bars of a cage. 'That's a detective. When he's dead I'll put you in there.' We see that the servant has kidnapped the girl. He pushes her into an abandoned house in the forest and locks the door. The gangster's house from the outside. A side wall fades away (so we see Buster and Crane discussing). Crane shows Buster the pearls. Buster grabs them, runs, jumps out of the window, through the box with the dress and stands up - now dressed as an old woman. The gangsters run out of the house and look for him, but see only the old woman who walks away slowly. One of the gangsters overtakes 'her' and spots Buster. Buster throws the dress in the gangster's face and runs away. A dead-end. Buster looks around. Gilette, dressed as a match seller, appears. He leans against the wall and points at the box in front of his belly. The gangsters spot Buster, Buster runs and jumps through the box and disappears. Gilette walks away from the wall. There is no hole in it. Gilette walks away. The gangsters are puzzled.
( The approximately ten following seconds can be found in 002975 )
( Not available: Buster meeting Gilette on a motor-bike, climbing the handlebar of the motorbike, driving off, and Gilette falling off the motorbike without Buster noticing. )
( Then 002976 begins (with 002974 to insert at the proper position; cf. 002976) )
( Not available: The end: Buster and the girl drowning, then the end of the dream-sequence: Buster wakes up in the cinema, the girl comes telling him that the case is solved and Crane arrested. At the end the love-sequence: Buster learns what to do (to kiss the girl) by watching the movie ).
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