Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Kid Brother

This week's Silent Sunday Nights feature comes up on TCM at 12:30 AM tonight, not midnight as is generally the case: The Kid Brother.

Harold Lloyd plays Harold Hickory, the youngest son of the local sheriff Jim; Harold has two older brothers Leo and Olin. Dad seems to be of the Theodore Roosevelt school of what makes a man a man, that being the physicality and the overt masculinity. Leo and Olin have those qualities; Harold decidedly doesnt, not that he's feminine. He's just small compared to his brothers and relatively shy. It means that Dad doesn't care as much for his youngest son, and any time he needs a job done, he'll call on the two older brothers.

Into this situation comes the traveling medicine show. Heading the show is Mary (Jobyna Ralston, who played The Girl in several Harold Lloyd movies). Dad doesn't really want the show in town since he knows they're not very honest, but Harold screws up and the medicine show sets up shop, much to Dad's consternation. That's not going to be the only problem for Dad, and also not the only thing between the show and the Hickory family. Leo and Olin wouldn't mind having Mary either, but they're about to get more pressing concerns.

As the local sheriff, Dad has been put in charge of safekeeping for the money that the town is raising to build a new dam. Why they couldn't put the money in a bank, I don't know. (It might be explained in the movie, but it's been quite a few years since I've seen this one.) The money for the dam goes missing, and everybody understandably accuses Jim of having taken it. This is why they should have put the money in the bank. Jim sets up a search party to try to find the money, but Harold doesn't get to take part.

Which is all for the best, anyhow, because it leaves Harold alone to do some inadvertent snooping of his own. Harold runs into one of Dad's enemies and somebody from the medicine show splitting up the money, so he knows not only that Dad is innocent, but who the guilty people are. However, everybody else is out looking for whoever might have done it, so it's up to tiny Harold to outwit these big guys, recover the money, and earn his father's trust. Oh, and perhaps if he can do all those things he might win the girl, too.

The Kid Brother is a Harold Lloyd movie, which means you can be sure you're going to get some inventive sight gags and some physical comedy. It's not as zany as, say, Safety Last, but that doesn't mean I'm trying to denigrate the movie. In fact, it's well photographed with good sight gags, and a good story. If you already like Harold Lloyd, you've probably seen this movie. If you're not too familiar with Lloyd's work, this wouldn't be a bad place to start.

The Kid Brother has been released to DVD, but I think it may have fallen out of print since it's not available from the TCM shop and Amazon only lists one box set that looks like it contains a bunch of public domain product.

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