Directed by: Fred C. Newmeyer , Sam Taylor
Runtime: 80 Minutes
Often known as Harold Lloyd’s best film, it is the first film I have seen from this great comedian. His physical ability (let alone being quite athletic) definitely brings laughter to the screen in this well executed piece of silent comedy. The story is simple, the characters are sweet and the comedy is very funny. This has some of the finest slapstick you could ask for, which makes Lloyd a contender as one of the best comedians of this time.
The story is simple. We meet a young couple, the boy (Lloyd) and the girl (Mildred Davis), and the boy leaves his little sweetheart to visit the big city of Great Bend where he pursues his fortune in a teeming metropolis. The Boy lands a job as a clerk at a fabric counter of DeVore's, a huge department store, but he lies in his letters home to his beloved, pretending to be the store's manager and spending his earnings on lavish gifts.
The Boy's roommate, The Pal (Bill Strother) makes money as a "human fly," performing attention-getting stunts. Promised $1,000 by DeVore's real manager if he can devise a publicity gimmick, The Boy convinces his friend to climb the 12-story establishment and split the winnings with him. On the day of the event, however, The Pal is busy dodging The Law (Noah Young), forcing The Boy to make the arduous climb solo.
During his climb as he dodges several obstacles, we get to the clock in the film’s most memorable image, an image I had seen well before watching this film. The insanity and danger of his climbing contributes to the comedy thrill, especially when he is dangling from somewhat 10 stories from a clock. On his climbing venture, he encounters pesky flapping pigeons, a net, a flagpole and even a vicious dog; obviously, a scene that makes people remember this film.
The slapstick humour here is a dying ( or dead) form that not as many people are interested in, such as the classic gags of social commentary and foolish actions. However, this kind of comedy I feel is timeless, just like Chaplin’s work and even Laurel and Hardy. It is not something that is funny now and not funny in a week’s time, it is funny and stays funny. I loved the comedy here because of how clever, zany and wacky it is. In one scene, we have a woman wanting to have a look at some fabric, where he ends up showing her everything on the shelves only to find she liked the first one he showed her. To double that hilarious happening is she only wanted a sample. That is among many of the hilarious gags written in this film and gracefully executed by Lloyd.
Harold Lloyd is silent cinemas acclaimed “third genius” and as this being, the first Lloyd film I have seen, I can see why. This is an important film in some ways because of its comedic influence. Next to the obvious Keaton and Chaplin, he is one of the greats as I said, and there will be more greats to come. The film overall is graciously funny.
Although he did not write or direct this film, he certainly does an amazing job in creating comedy mayhem with his athletic climbing and crawling around. Of course, another thing you remember him for is the iconic look with his round glasses and straw hat. This silent film is one of the many that give the era good name, especially to comedy.
My Rating: 9/10