15. Sherlock Jr.
directed by Buster Keaton
Packing more laughs and ingenuity into forty-five minutes than most comedies manage in 100, Sherlock, Jr. may just be director/star Buster Keaton’s crowning achievement. The film begins modestly enough. Keaton is in love with a girl, but a more cunning, well-off, and classically handsome man has the upper hand, and just keeps raising the stakes. When Keaton is framed for stealing his prospective father-in-law’s watch, he dreams himself into the movies he sees so regularly, a world in which he can outsmart, outmaneuver, and ultimately outrun his rivals. In the movies, after all, nothing is impossible. Keaton exploits the dreamspace with ever-more-elaborate traps and escapes, dispensing with concepts of unparalleled brilliance in the span of a few frames. We’d be dumbstruck, if not for the irrepressible laughter.