Monday, June 18, 2018

FAVOURITE MOVIES: Girl Shy (1924)


A story of Cracker Jack and dog biscuits

Harold Meadows is the lead character played by Harold Lloyd in a paradoxically gentle and raucous romantic comedy. Harold is a shy tailor's apprentice who stutters at the best of times, but around girls all the time. The girls in his hometown of Little Bend make sport of Harold. For his part, Harold has decided to make a silent and distant study of the female sex. He has studied so diligently that it has resulted in a book about his imaginary love affairs.

THE SECRET OF MAKING LOVE

BY HAROLD MEADOWS
LITTLE BEND


Harold dedicates his book to the young men of the world to whom he passes on such advice as the way to win over the vamp is to feign indifference, and the way to a flapper's heart is to act the caveman. Oh, Harold. Silly advice indeed, but the basis for some very funny skits as we peek inside Harold's imagination.


Harold takes a momentous trip from his small town to the big city where he plans to grace a publisher with the honour of publishing his book. Aboard the train is Mary Buckingham, an heiress with a temperamental car who had not planned a railway trip. Harold becomes involved with Mary, her contraband pooch and some mixed up luggage. The sweet and attentive Mary is so attractive and unpretentious that Harold eventually forgets to stutter.

When Mary is picked up at the station by her driver, she impulsively kisses Harold goodbye. In a sentimental gesture, she keeps the empty box of Cracker Jack he bought her. Likewise, Harold hangs onto a box of dog biscuits that figured in their adventure. A dazed Harold drops his book at the publisher's office and returns home, dreaming of Mary. Can it be love?


A further encounter with Mary affirms the affection between the two starstruck lovers. Harold believes he will soon be a wealthy author and worthy of the girl of his dreams. Mary is a girl besotted and gives no thought to their differing stations in life.

On a follow-up visit with the publisher, Harold is given the gears by the girls in the office who had a great laugh over his efforts. He leaves the publisher heartbroken. His dream of being an author is quashed, and he feels he cannot propose to his girl. Harold makes what he imagines is the grand sacrifice for love, by breaking off the hopeless romance between a tailor's apprentice and an heiress. He has only succeeded in breaking two hearts.

Mary succumbs to family pressure to marry a man they deem suitable, but whom she can barely tolerate. The day of the wedding is a day filled with surprises. Harold is initially insulted to discover that the publisher has released his book as a joke entitled The Boob's Diary. The publisher's advance of $3000 assuages his outrage because now Harold is in the position of being able to propose to his beloved Mary. First, all he has to do is stop her marrying a man Harold has learned is already married!


The last twenty minutes of the movie is a race to the altar filled with thrills and gags. Harold starts out at a run and never lets up. Various automobiles are involved including one that belongs to a bootlegger and came complete with pursuing cops. There are horses and trolleys and a motorcycle, and two harnessed horses that make our Harold look for all the world like Ben-Hur. Will he get there on time? Lloyd's directing team of Sam Taylor and Fred Newmeyer keep the action frantically cutting between the race and the nuptials to give the audience a nail-biting finale.

The movie is filled with funny, clever and delightful gags that arise organically out of the character's actions and the situations in which they are placed. Two charming and delightful leads in Harold Lloyd and Jobyna Ralston make Girl Shy a romantic comedy for the ages; always good for a laugh, a smile, and a gasp.

PS: Does anyone know where we could listen to this song?















11 comments:

  1. Paddy Lee, I hope you are doing well. I really enjoyed your write-up of this very funny movie. During the 1970's PBS channels would show silent movies and that is when I first saw GIRL SHY. I laughed and laughed during Lloyd's chase to stop the wedding of Jobyna Ralston. GIRL SHY is a Classic Comedy for the ages.

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    1. I can't complain. Thanks for asking.

      PBS introduced me to Harold Lloyd and it is just one of the things for which I will be eternally grateful to that organization.

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    2. Great write-up of one my favorite silent comedies. I know all the sophisticates prefer Chaplin or Keaton, but I laugh the most at Harold Lloyd's work.

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    3. Thank you. Harold's comedy has a freshness about it no matter the decade or century you are watching him.

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  2. Wait, I tried feigning indifference and married way above my station. I'd say that works! I haven't seen this Harold Lloyd classic, but was pleased to find a great print of it on YouTube.

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    1. Ha! Funny how things work out, isn't it?

      I'm so glad you can see this terrific movie. I think it is one of the top romcoms, and would put it alongside any of the classics from future decades.

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  3. Hard for me to link "romcom" to silents, though this certainly qualifies. Heck, how many folks think the likes of '30s gems such as "My Man Godfrey," "Libeled Lady" or "The Awful Truth" are romcoms? (That term has sadly become so conflated with "chick flicks.)

    "Girl Shy" is my favorite Harold Lloyd film, clever and gently funny, though it's not as well-known as "Safety Last" or "The Freshman." The multimodal extended chase sequence is a thing of genius, and fascinating for anyone who wants to see what Los Angeles looked like in late 1923 or early '24 (the film premiered that April).

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    1. I hesitated labeling Girl Shy a rom-com at first, but when I think of the great films in that sub-genre I think it truly started with Harold here.

      I love the time capsule aspect of these films. We're very lucky to have the record of a time and place.

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  4. This sounds like a lot of fun. In fact, it sounds like a new fave. Thanking you in advance.

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    1. Hooray! It became my favourite Harold Lloyd the first time I saw it. Now I'm at the point where my favourite Lloyd picture is the most recent one watched. Right now, it's back to Girl Shy!

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