Harold Lloyd disc 7

Number Please?: a boy, his rival, the girl they both love, a fun fair, and a race to get permission from her mother to take her up in a hot-air balloon. That’s pretty much what this boils down to; amusing enough but the end gets bogged down with the girl’s purse being stolen by a thief, then recovered by the two boys who then become the suspects. Interesting in that Lloyd actually doesn’t come out on top for once.

A Sailor-Made Man: like Grandma’s Boy, this apparently stretched out to four reels inadvertently; unlike Grandma’s Boy, I never got the sense (even if illusory) that the thing might actually have been thought through fully in spite of that. Here Harold is a bone-idle heir to a presumably obscene fortune, who wants to marry a young woman but her father insists he get a job. So he joins the navy for three years, as you do when you want to get married immediately. At least Lloyd softens the edges of this indolent pig as the film goes on, a whole film of him behaving like that would’ve worn thin quickly, and it’s interesting to see him on the same side as Noah Young for once (the latter more usually being an antagonist)… but I could never shake the feeling that this should’ve been done by Chaplin, it should’ve been his tramp getting drafted on the ship, and it should’ve just been two reels. Either that or it needed to actually be longer.

Among Those Present: Harold joins the “swell set”, posing as a high society lord. Only really funny for me during the fox hunt scene when he loses his pants and scandalises the rich old women. Three reels of this was one too many.

I Do: Conversely, this might actually have been one reel too few. Lloyd was one of the earliest adopters of audience previews of films, and in this case he cut a three-reeler down to a two-reeler after the longer film tested poorly. I presume that’s why I got a feeling of imbalance from the thing; I don’t know exactly what got cut but I’m thinking it was stuff in the latter part of the film, cos the earlier scenes where Harold has to look after his brother in law’s ghastly children are so much longer than the burglar business later on. It’s good but maybe Lloyd shouldn’t have let his audiences dictate this one, maybe that additional reel would’ve actually straightened it out. Or maybe not, cos Silent Era says something about the first reel being cut… though it still feels more like the latter bits. I don’t know.

For Heaven’s Sake: I’m interested by how often the absurdly rich oaf was a character Lloyd played rather than his better remembered “everyman”, although both wore the famous glasses… and Lloyd came up with the glasses man in opposition to his earlier character Lonesome Luke, so I presume he didn’t feel the same need to distinguish his everyman from his rich git. Anyway, here he’s the rich git, wasteful to the point of buying and wrecking two stupidly expensive cars, and dense enough to unthinkingly destroy a coffee stand run by Brother Paul for the benefit of homeless men. Still, he’s not a complete pig, he gives the old boy a thousand dollars to set up a mission, and then, why Brother Paul you’ve got a lovely daughter and Harold suddenly takes a more direct interest in the mission. This seems to be one of Lloyd’s lesser-known features—certainly I don’t think I knew any details about it myself beyond the title and release date—which is a shame cos it’s certainly not a lesser film; I particularly like how it subverts expectations about who you think Harold’s nemesis will wind up being, and does so through a particularly good chase scene about a third or so of the way through the film. To say nothing of the concluding race to his wedding. And, as with quite a few of his features, its brevity is an undeniable virtue.

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