Sunday, July 1, 2012

Harold Lloyd shorts

This week's Silent Sunday Nights brings three Harold Lloyd movies which don't seem to be on DVD, at least not on a DVD that's currently in print. The first two are two-reelers I don't think I've seen before; Number, Please? at midnight tonight followed by Never Weaken at 12:30 AM. The last film is Lloy'd first "feature", if you can call a movie that runs a little over 45 minutes a feature: A Sailor-Made Man. This one has apparently made it to some Lloyd box sets that are Region 2 DVDs, but not North American Region 1.

As usual, Harold Lloyd plays The Boy. He's in love with The Girl (Mildred Davis), but unfortunately, her father doesn't like the idea of her marring Lloyd, unless Lloyd can get an honorable profession and make a man of himself. So what does our hero decide to do? Join the Navy, even though he's spectacularly unsuited for the Navy. Eventually, the Navy calls at a port in the stereotypically Middle Eastern kingdom of Khaipura-Bhandanna, where The Girl and her father just happen to be as well. The bad news is that the Maharajah has become smitten with the Girl, and takes her for his harem. In a plot twist that probably was unoriginal even in 1921, the only person who can save The Girl is The Boy, which is also his chance to become the sort of man her father would like!

The plot may not be much to speak of, but when you're watching a movie like A Sailor-Made Man, it's really more about the visual comedy and the physical gags. These are two areas where Lloyd excelled, and the movie gives him a variety of locations to engage in different sorts of gags. In addition to your standard US middle class places, there's shipboard humor, and the Arabian palace. Granted, the Arabian palace is probably nothing like it would be in real life, but we're not looking for realism in a 1920s comedy.

As I said at the beginning, this isn't available on DVD here in the States, so you're going to have to catch the TCM showing tonight.

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