Harold Lloyd disc 5

Hot Water: the only film on the disc I hadn’t already seen. This one’s reasonably good, starting well with a nice bit of misleading; we think Harold’s running late to his own wedding but he is, in fact, only the best man. But married life for Harold himself follows hard upon, and he’ll have cause to regret not remaining a bachelor… the problem isn’t the little woman, she seems to be OK; it’s the little woman’s family who are the real problem, particularly her fearsome mother (the obnoxious brat of a kid brother and the adult brother don’t get as much chance to make an impression), and poor Harold winds up as quite the chaos magnet throughout the film. Structured quite clearly in three episodes, in the first Harold has to buy stuff at the market and carry it all home on the tram (said stuff including a live turkey he wins in a raffle); in the second he comes home to find the family visiting and has to take them for a ride in his new car; and in the third he gets drunk before dinner and, through a great string of misunderstandings, comes to believe he’s accidentally murdered the old bag, leading to a “haunted house” climax like in Dr Jack only this time Harold’s the victim of it rather than the perpetrator. Not sure how well it hangs together, given how highly episodic it is (much like Buster Keaton designed Three Ages to be turned into a series of shorts if it failed as a feature, Hot Water gives me a similar feeling), though the individual parts are certainly good, and at an hour long it doesn’t exactly overstay its welcome.

Now or Never: Harold meets his childhood sweetheart again for the first time in years, they’re going to get married, but there’s a complication: he’s got to look after her employer’s little girl, who she’s brought with her while the child’s father is away without telling the father, who’s travelling on the same train as them and so the child has to be hidden from him… “complications ensue”, as I tend to say in these situations. Lloyd was probably itching to try his hand at a feature by this point, and to get away from the slapstick of his earlier shorts, so you can view this as a step in both directions; it’s a three-reeler (i.e. obviously longer than the more common one- or two-reel comedy shorts of the era, but equally obviously not full feature-length), and he’s evidently trying to refine the sort of character he’d play later, the young man making the best of a situation with his ingenuity. It works well, and there’s even a great stunt ending atop the moving train. Terrific.

High and Dizzy: an example of the sort of thing Lloyd was trying to progress from; here he’s a doctor who gets massively drunk along with a friend and proceeds to wreak havoc in a hotel. Lloyd plays the drunk in a fairly obnoxious and abrasive manner which makes him a lot less sympathetic than he’d later be, and on the whole it’s amusing enough but only really kicks into gear near the end, when Harold sees one of his patients (who also happens to be the chief object of his affection) sleepwalking out on the ledge of the hotel which is very high off the ground… yes, it’s tall building shenanigans once more, though I’m thinking this would be the first time Lloyd had actually used that ending. And, of course, in his later ventures high off the ground outside a big building he wouldn’t be playing drunk either, which gives this a bit of an edge lacking from Feet First

Get Out and Get Under: Harold’s late for an amateur dramatics performance, and has to contend with a recalcitrant automobile plus associated hazards like children, dogs, police… yeah. Funny, obviously, but not really a lot to be said about it. But it’s amusing to see it reprise the car theme from Hot Water, just like the last film similarly recalls the sleepwalking scenes in the main feature as well.

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