I decided to watch Sherlock Jr. today, a 1924 silent film, directed and starring Buster Keaton.
I saw this card, and thank goodness that this joke wasn’t lost to time in the past 89 years…I actually understood this hilarious quadruple reference! Or rather, I knew two and found out about a third and fourth!
This card is mentioning Sherlock Jr.’s (Buster Keaton) assistant, Gillette. The most obvious reference that sticks out first is to William Gillette, the American stage actor who combined several of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories to be adapted to stage. His wearing of the deerstalker cap so often in the plays is what has lead to it being Sherlock’s iconic hat. To many, he was the embodiment of THE Sherlock Holmes and sadly his only film performance as Sherlock Holmes in 1916 has been lost to time.
Besides reading up on the history of Sherlock Holmes and all its incarnations, one of my favorite pastimes is looking up old vintage advertisements (which can be an absolute source of hilarity) and finding out how old companies are…I’m always curious and I have a plethora of ridiculous miscellaneous brand knowledge.
Well…the Gillette Company was founded by King Camp Gillette in 1901 as a safety razor manufacturer. Gillette may not have invented the safety razor, but he did create a third pivotal innovation using a disposable double-edge blade (in other words, the first safety razor that could be readily thrown away). Until the invention and patent of the safety razor, a person had to shave with a straight razor, hence why many went to barbers.
The Gillette company may no longer exist, but the brand still does, owned by P&G (Proctor & Gamble). I’m sure many of you are familiar with it.
Looking up what I knew about these first two references and confirming what I knew…I stumbled across these two razor brands also and realized I had more than two references in front of me. Back to the 1920s…there was the American Safety Razor Company had its “Ever-Ready” series…
and the Gem Cutlery Company with its “Gem” models. (This ad is from 1934, but they were in business long before this ad was made just to give you the idea)
All three of these companies are just a few of several in direct competition with each other for the market in safety razors during the time period this film was made…and you can see all three referenced in this card…the brand names and slogan are even capitalized!
MY WORD. ALL THESE REFERENCES.
I COULD NOT STOP LAUGHING AT THIS
EVEN THE CHEEKINESS OF SAYING IN A BAD SCRAPE
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- wewantbeautifulthings said: And this was probably paid product placement. It was a new concept in the 20s, but it became regular fodder with 1930s radio soaps sponsored by P&G, Colgate, et al and by the 40s movies (i.e. “Love Happy” by the Marx Bros).
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