Harold Lloyd disc 9

Well, technically it’s “Australian Harold Lloyd disc nine with bits of American Harold Lloyd”, cos when I went to watch the last disc it stuttered a bit during the first film (though I managed to watch it OK otherwise) and stuttered rather a bit more during the second one. Thinking the DVD player was playing silly buggers, I tried it on the laptop—whose BD-ROM drive is` markedly newer than my old player—and, well, it did exactly the same thing, so it must be a disc problem. As such, I wound up watching the last two films from the American DVD edition… which means that using the American DVD art to illustrate this series is finally appropriate!

Ask Father: young Harold wants to marry the girl of his dreams, but he’ll need her old man’s permission and the old man doesn’t exactly make himself easily available. One joke, but it’s one reel so it’s not exactly stretched too far, and along the way he even climbs up the outside of a building. Where have we seen him do that before? I was also quite taken with the moving carpet thing inside the old boy’s office to quickly shift troublemakers like Harold back outside.

From Hand to Mouth: Harold’s a down-and-out poor boy who falls in with a gang of crooks hired to kidnap a young girl to stop her receiving an inheritance. John Sinnott’s review here observes how the film seems to start out in a kind of Chaplinesque pathetic style before changing its mind in the second reel and deciding to hit the straight slapstick switch instead, and I think he’s onto something there. I must say I like the second half a lot more than the first.

The Freshman: fortunately this one wasn’t blighted by the NTSC interlacing issues that drove me to buy the local edition in the first place (there was a bit of it in the last film). Here, anyway, we have one of Lloyd’s major films, it’s on no fewer than six lists at ICheckMovies, including the National Film Registry (to which it was one of the earliest additions), Silent Era’s top 100, and Leonard Maltin’s 100 must-see films of the 20th century, it was one of only a few of Lloyd’s films that he allowed to remain in circulation later on in his life, plus it inspired a whole string of imitators in the late 20s (Keaton’s College no doubt being one) and arguably set a pattern for god/dess knows how many teen comedies decades later. It was apparently his biggest money-maker at the time, and remains a big hit, and I’m trying to work out why I didn’t like it more than I did. Lloyd is the titular freshman, a young man with a somewhat… romanticised view of the college life he’s about to partake in, and determined to be The Most Popular Man On Campus. Needless to say his plan of action—with cues taken from a film he adores called The College Hero—backfires, with his fellow students ridiculing him behind his back. And maybe that’s why I wasn’t rapt in the film; I’m not actually big on humiliation as a source of comedy, and it seemed to me that was the direction the film was going in (cf. the “opening speech”, the clothes falling apart at the ball, being used as the tackle dummy in football practice). There’s something different about the way Lloyd’s character gets treated in this film to the way he does in other films where those around him think he’s an idiot and treat him accordingly. Maybe that’s why I had trouble responding to it. Or maybe, at the end, I’m finally Lloyded out. Give me credit, I’ve been doing this for nine days straight… Still, it’s been fun. Time, though, for something not starring a man in glasses…

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