Public Domain Theater: Sherlock Jr. (& “A Trip to Mars”)

Welcome to Public Domain Theater, your home for the wonderful world of films that have (in the United States, at least) fallen into the public domain, and are free for everyone to see!

Happy New Year, everyone! And since it’s the start of the New Year, that means a bunch more films have entered the public domain! Starting on January 1st, everything released in 1924 is now public domain in the United States. To celebrate this momentous event, we have for you a couple of wonderful films from that year, both of which prove that Hollywood’s been making movies about movies almost as long as there have been movies.

Our feature presentation is Sherlock Jr., a slapstick comedy from that master of the artform, Buster Keaton! He plays an unlucky and lovelorn projectionist who dreams of being a master detective and winning the heart of his lady love. He literally dreams it, as he falls asleep at work and astral projects himself into the movie playing, taking on the role of World’s Greatest Detective, Sherlock Jr., and engaging in some of Keaton’s most inspired stunt work.

But before we get to that, we have a cartoon from the Out of the Inkwell series, entitled “A Trip to Mars”. It begins with cartoon star Koko the Clown arguing with his animator, Max Fleischer, about Fleischer’s decision to send Koko into outer space in this latest cartoon. This leads to Koko leaping off the easel to try to escape from his animator, and ends with both Koko and Fleischer tumbling through space and landing on the rings of Saturn, with a whole bunch of stuff in the middle that’s even weirder and freakier.

Every year, now, the public domain gets a little larger. We’ve still got a while to go before really famous films like King Kong or Casablanca have their copyrights expire, but 1924 still has many wonderful motion pictures to enjoy, and you’re missing out on a great deal if you don’t come check ’em out!

Opening Cartoon:

Feature Presentation: