There have been over 100 actors who have played Sherlock Holmes on screen at one time or another in the last century of film and television history. John Barrymore, Basil Rathbone, Peter Cushing, Jeremy Brett and Christopher Plummer to name but a few. Perhaps the most unusual "Holmes" of them all was Buster Keaton who chose to play a character based partly on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's immortal detective for his second feature film , "Sherlock Junior" (1924).
Keaton plays a young small-town cinema projectionist and theater janitor who is trying to woo a young lady. When her faher's watch is stolen by a romantic rival, and Buster is framed for the theft, he goes back to the theater and dreams himself into the melodramatic detective movie about lost jewels playing at the movie house. With the help of a Holmesian persona and a motorcycle-riding Dr. Watson, this very American Sherlock saves his girl from a ruthless gang of crooks. Now if only his dream can come true and the how-to-be-a-detective book he is reading on-the-job will help clear his name and restore him in good graces with the girl of his dreams. The clips below feature some amazing physical and logistical gags. Watch how Buster finds himself in difficulty when he enters a movie in progress; he becomes the subject of jump cuts that put him in a variety of dangerous situations.
There is also a dangerous sequence he shot without a stunt double in the runaway motorcycle segement. "Sherlock Jr" runs only about an hour in length but it is one of the most clever and inventive comedies ever made. Just these few minutes only scratch the surface of how inventive and ahead of its time it was in terms of playing with the idea of a person in a movie dreaming he's actually in a movie in his own mind! Here's a bit of the flavor of the film below. The soundtrack is provided by a modern group called the Club Foot Orchestra, and this version was released on KINO films in the 1990's