This Film Is 100 Years Old

Sherlock Jr. (1924)

Sherlock Jr. is a mid-length Buster Keaton film (not quite a short, not quite a feature) that’s pretty much the platonic ideal of Keaton perfection really, full of technical invention, astonishing stunts, creatively staged chases, and lots of good jokes in between as well to tie it all together.

Plot wise here, Buster Keaton plays a daydreaming cinema employee who’s trying to impress his girlfriend. Unfortunately, some other arsehole is also trying to win her heart, but by nefarious means. Appalling!

Of course, this means he tricks everyone into thinking Buster’s an absolute disgrace of a man, even though obviously he’s not. But now he’s banned from seeing his girlfriend, forever. Poor Buster.

Anyway, after this traumatising event, he goes back to work, falls asleep, and then while dreaming climbs into the film he’s projecting, where he spends basically the rest of the film, having lots of fun.

Wonderfully, this film within a film isn’t a parody of some other film you haven’t watched (as is usually the case), but a parody of this very film you’re watching right now, which is nicely circular.

It also allows for a good fifteen minutes of non-stop action and chases at the end, as well as a pretty wonderful recurring joke where he repeatedly fails to recognise his sidekick in his various disguises (all of which are just him wearing a big moustache).

So yeah, I loved this. Hooray for 1924. It’s off to a pretty good start.



1. I watched this on blu-ray, but as ever got the screenshots from youtube.

2. There’s a stunt/trick in the middle of this which is genuinely the best magic trick/special effect ever.

3. Which I won’t spoil here.

4. Cause I’m nice like that.

5. But it really is incredible.

6. And impossible.

7. Although like all the best tricks, its obviously a simple mixture of mirrors, trapdoors and some sort of portal to another dimension.

8. There’s also a bit where snooker is used for comic effect, which might be even more technically impressive somehow.

9. Who knew such a thing was even possible.

10. But turns out it was.

11. Briefly.

12. One hundred years ago.


Film Information

Title: Sherlock Jr.
Director: Buster Keaton
Year: 1924
Duration: 45 minutes
Watch: youtube

This Film Is 100 Years Old

The Marriage Circle (1924)

Directed by Ernest Lubitch in 1924, The Marriage Circle was his first American film, although it’s still set in Europe.

It’s a fairly convoluted but also pretty charming comedy of manners and misunderstandings about a happily married couple who are brought to the verge of divorce because everyone else keeps trying to have affairs with them for some reason.

I suppose that was the style at the time.

Everyone has pretty amazing faces, and they all wear wonderful clothes, and they all definitely seem to be having a lot of fun, which is nice.

I quite liked it, really.



1. I originally watched this on mubi last year (when it wasn’t even a hundred years old!)

2. But then rewatched just now on youtube.

3. Which is where I grabbed the images from too.

4. Weirdly, this was remade by Ernest Lubitch (presumably in sound) in 1932, as One Hour With You.

5. I’ve not seen that, though.


Film Information

Title: The Marriage Circle
Director: Ernest Lubitch
Year: 1923
Duration: 1 hour 25 minutes
Watch: youtube

This Film Is 100 Years Old

The Thief Of Bagdad (1924)

Written by, produced by, and starring (though not directed by) Douglas Fairbanks, The Thief Of Bagdad is an impossibly lavish and incredibly beautiful retelling/remixing/mangling of various stories from The Thousand And One Nights.

Douglas Fairbanks plays the irrepressible and irascible thief who, in falling in love with the princess, finally finds some sense of morality and purpose.

Roughly structured in two parts, the first part involves the thief winning the heart of the princess by a mixture of subterfuge, charm and mightily impressive muscles, while in the second he has to go on a mythic quest to save her from the hands of some nefarious arsehole or other (who might well be good at subterfuge, but lacks the thief’s charm and muscles).

The first half of the film is by far the best, with an exuberance and charm that almost dissipates away at times in the second section.

But there’s still a lot to like there too, including some genuinely incredible terrible monsters that the thief kills with a nicely manic fervour (and some impressive gouts of blood, smoke and what looks a bit like bile occasionally).

That first hour or so is just wonderful in pretty much every way, though, so if for some reason you’ve only got time to watch half of a 2 and a half hour silent film that’s 100 years old now, watch that half).



1. I first watched this on mubi, but it’s not on there any more. I grabbed the screenshots from youtube, where it will presumably be forevermore.

2. I’m not sure I’ve seen Douglas Fairbanks in anything else, but he’s incredible in this.

3. A huge swaggering proto-Brando of a performance.

4. This also has a brief but significant role for the always wonderful Anna May Wong (who was in The Toll Of The Sea) as a treacherous handmaiden (although considering she’s more slave than handmaiden, she’s probably right to be treacherous).

5. I still haven’t ever seen one of those American coins she was on.

6. I still want one.

7. This also has some lovely use of screen tinting (a nice delicate yellow for the outdoor scenes, a cool purple for the indoor scenes, some silvery black and white for the night time, and even green and reds for the forest and fire levels later on).

8. Which all gives it the feel of some 8-bit adventure game at times.


Film Information

Title: The Thief Of Bagdad
Director: Raoul Walsh
Year: 1924
Duration: 2 hours 20 minutes
Watch: youtube

This Film Is More Than 100 Years Old

Repas des Chats (1896) / Déjeuner Du Chat (1897) / Les Chats Boxeurs (1898) / Équilibre Et Moulinet (1899) / La Petite Fille Et Son Chat (1900)

These are various films by the Lumiere Brothers featuring cats. Lots and lots of lovely cats.

These are all about a minute long, and each (except possibly the boxing match one) prove beyond doubt that cats were basically exactly as delightful a hundred years ago or more as they are today.

Which is a very nice thing to prove, really.



1. I watched these on youtube: Repas Des Chats; Dejeuner Du Chat; Les Chats Boxeurs; Équilibre Et Moulinet; La Petite Fille Et Son Chat.

2. And tried to work out the actual years they were from from this wonderful Lumiere Brothers website, as I’m not sure I trust the youtube titles entirely I’m afraid.

3. Also I couldn’t find all of these on that site, so don’t even know if all of these are actually Lumiere Brothers films at all.

4. But hopefully they are.

5. Also what I was actually looking for was Le Chat Qui Joue, another Lumiere Brothers cat film from 1897, which was mentioned in this Sight And Sound obscure cinematic gems article.

6. But which unfortunately I can’t find anywhere at all.

7. And the Blu-Ray it might be on costs £25.

8. Which is kind of a lot (for me).

9. Especially as it might not be on there anyway.

This Film Is 100 Years Old

Go West (1923)

Go West is a 1923 silent comedy short, directed by Len Powers and featuring some chimps dressed up as people, albeit people with fake tails, as was the style at the time.

A father throws his useless wastrel son out of the house, so he hitches a ride on the railroad out west, holds up a clothes store, then gets lynched for his crime.

It’s quite the tale to tell in just under twelve minutes.

Luckily at the end it was all a dream, and the feckless young chimp man can go back to being a useless old drunk once again.



1. I watched this on blu-ray, and took the screenshots from this essentially version on youtube.

2. Not to be confused with the 1925 Buster Keaton film of the same name.

3. Even though I only saw it because it was included as an extra with the 1925 Buster Keaton film of the same name.

4. Like all things with animals dressed up as humans, this was deeply unsettling and upsetting in almost every way.

5. Although the dog sheriff at least looked like he was having fun.


Film Information

Title: Go West
Year: 1923
Director: Len Powers
Duration: 12 minutes
Watch: youtube

This Film Is 100 Years Old

Our Hospitality (1923)

Our Hospitality was the second full length feature Buster Keaton directed, a comedic retelling of the historical Hatfield-McCoy feud, but where most of the feud seems to involve falling off cliffs and being swept down rivers.

Unlike his first full length film (Three Ages, which was basically three short films edited together), Our Hospitality actually has a single full length story that runs through the whole thing. Here, after growing up in New York, Buster unwittingly returns to his home town and discovers that basically everyone wants to murder him, except for his faithful dog, and a girl he met on the train.

The first half hour or so of this is fairly sedate, the jokes being of the good natured but not actually that funny sort that elicit smiles rather than laughs, and if it wasn’t for Buster’s excellent dog brightening things up I’d say this section was kind of poor really.

Weirdly, the second half of the film forgets about the dog entirely, possibly because he’s no longer needed to save the show. Instead we get a non-stop sequence of almost pure Buster Keaton magnificence, stunts, action, charm and even actual funny jokes.

Which is nice (and very good).



1. I watched this on blu-ray, where it looked amazing.

2. But grabbed the screenshots from youtube, where it looked less amazing, unfortunately.

3. I think I’m still struggling with the pacing of Buster’s full length films, where it seems they have roughly the same amout of jokes as his shorts, but spread out three times as thinly.

4. Saying that, the last half hour of this is a pretty breathtaking sequence of ever escalating events that presumably would never have been as amazing if it was squeezed down to the fit into a 25 minute shirt.

5. So what do I know, really.

6. Nothing, that’s what.

7. Also, this really does look beautiful in the blu-ray restoration version.

8. All these magnificent landscapes as wide as the screen can show

9. Which is not that wide, due to 4:3, but still beautiful.

10. This was the final film appearance of the wonderful Joe Roberts, who had a stroke during filming and then died shortly after (about a month before the film was released)

11. It was also the final film appearance of Natalie Talmadge, who didn’t die during filming but married Buster Keaton instead.

12. Finally, this was quite fun to watch simply because here I am in the 2020s watching a film made in the 1920s that’s set in the 1820s.

13. Hopefully this means that in the 2120s someone reviews this hundred year old review of this now two hundred year old film set in this now 300 year old time to complete this exciting sequence of events.


Film Information

Title: Our Hospitality
Directors: Buster Keaton and John G. Blystone
Year: 1923
Duration: 75 minutes
Watch: youtube

This Film Is 100 Years Old

Three Ages (1923)

Three Ages is a 1923 Buster Keaton comedy where Buster falls in love repeatedly throughout time. This was the first full length feature he wrote and directed, although it’s only an hour, so not that full length, really.

This is basically the same story (Buster Keaton is in love, and must win his girl from the clutches of some nefarious rival) told three times across three different ages (hence the title), so we get Buster first as a caveman, then as a Roman, and finally as an American.

This is pretty good, with some pretty wonderful gags here and there, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as a lot of his other films. Maybe partly because this is parodying a film I’ve never seen (DW Griffith’s Intolerance), but also because a lot of it feels like remixes of stuff from other (better) Buster Keaton films.

Then again it does feature a stop motion Buster Keaton riding a stop motion dinosaur, and I wasn’t really expecting to ever see that.



1. I watched this on amazon, but the screenshots come from youtube.

2. This was Buster Keaton’s first full length feature as a director/writer/etc. His first as an actor was The Saphead (1920).

3. Which is another film I’ve not seen.

4. Buster Keaton’s second full length feature as writer/directer/etc was Our Hospitality, released on November 19th 1923.

5. So I better watch that soon make sure I just about watch it in the week of release (plus or minus one hundred years).


Film Information

Title: Three Ages
Director: Buster Keaton
Year: 1923
Duration: 61 minutes
Watch: youtube

This Film Is 100 Years Old

John Bull’s Animated Sketchbooks (1915-1916) / A Prize Fight or Glove Fight between John Bull and President Kruger (1900)

John Bull’s Animated Sketchbook was an ongoing series of animated satire/propaganda from 1915 and 1916, in which postcard illustrator and political cartoonist Dudley Buxton utilised the “lightning sketch” technique (time lapse footage of him drawing his pictures) to deliver political commentary in the manner and quality of Brant.

Most of the sketches here are, unsurprisingly, wartime propaganda (“The British wage ware like this, but the Germans wage war like this!“), but there’s still time for one about Charlie Chaplin choking on a fly in his pint too for some reason.

(Pint not included in screenshot)



1. There were four of these and I watched them all on the BFI website (1, 2, 3, 4).

2. I came across these today because I searched the BFI free site for Charlie Chaplin and this was all that came up.

3. Although the first three of these episodes all appear to be animated by Dudley Buxton, the last one is illustrated by Anson Dyer.

4. Whose work I seemed to be surprisingly furious about in 2019.

5. Poor angry young me.

6. (He is shite though)

7. I mean, obviously most of the political satire is going to fall flat a century later, but if political commentary cartoons are the most “of their time” art form possible, they’re also consistently the worst too. And seemingly always have been/will be.

8. And while we’re on the topic of John Bull, “A Prize Fight or Glove Fight between John Bull and President Kruger” is a two-minute political sketch about the Boer War from 1900.

9. In which Britain and South Africa have a fist fight (and of course only Britain fights fairly).

10. No other way they could ever lose.


Film Information: John Bull’s Animated Sketchbooks
Director: Dudley Buxton
Year: 1915-1916
Duration: 2 minutes to 10 minutes
Watch: Various episodes on the BFI Player: 1, 2, 3, 4

Film Information: A Prize Fight or Glove Fight between John Bull and President Kruger
Director: John Sloane Barnes
Year: 1900
Duration: 2 minutes
Watch: BFI Player

This Film Is More Than 100 Years Old

The Floorwalker (1916)

The Floorwalker is a 30 minute comedy directed by (and written by, starring, etc) Charlie Chaplin, who plays his usual hapless self as he gets caught up in a plan by two corrupt store managers to steal all the shop’s money from a safe for some reason.

This is the earliest Charlie Chaplin film I’ve seen, I think. It’s pretty good fun, although it ends so abruptly I thought maybe the final few scenes were missing (but apparently they aren’t, so who knows what was going on there).

It also includes what is apparently the first ever “running the wrong way on an escalator” gag, which they make pretty extensive – and fairly wonderful – usage of, and then goes on to pioneer the “not actually a mirror gag” in a sequence where Charlie Chaplin and one of the nefarious managers look so alike they both think they’re looking at their own reflections (the basis of jokes in what feels like 90% of Bugs Bunny cartoons, at least, plus probably hundreds of other things down the years).



1. I watched this on blu-ray (this wonderful BFI set).

2. But there’s loads of versions of it on youtube if you want too.

3. Although I can’t vouch for the quality of either the image or the soundtrack on there.

4. This was Charlie Chaplin’s first film for Mutual.

5. Where he was paid $10,000 a week for a year to make 12 films.

6. Which he then did.

7. Although he took 18 months to finish them, the lazy bugger.

8. Before then moving on elsewhere to make even more films that aren’t on this blu-ray.


Film Information

Title: The Floorwalker
Year: 1916
Director: Charlie Chaplin
Duration: 30 minutes
Watch: youtube

This Film Is More Than 100 Years Old

The Kuleshov Effect (1918)

The Kuleshov Effect is the process by which we derive meanings from shots not just from the shots themselves, but by their relationship to the previous and subsequent shots in the sequence, first demonstrated by the Russian filmmaker Lev Kuleshov in the 1910s.

Editing together different sequences showing the actor Ivan Mosjoukine reacting to various scenes, Kuleshov noted how audiences ascribed different emtions to the actor’s expressions despiet the fact that in each case the exact same footage was used.

Which is both obvious to us now (100 years later) and also still endlessly interesting (or at least I think so).



1. I watched two versions of this on youtube (1, 2)

2. And although both claim to be the original I’m pretty sure neither of them are.


Film Information

Title: The Kuleshov Effect
Director: Lev Kuleshov
Year: 1918 (approximately)
Duration: 1 minute
Watch: youtube; youtube
Related Articles: wikipedia; Movements In Film; Nashville Film Institute