No Limit Of Una-Lloyd Joy!
Harold The Action Ace in Girl Shy (1924)
Those who were there will remember word-of-mouth the Bullitt car chase inspired in 1968. That part alone made it a must-see. Did Girl Shy's race to the alter do as much for 1924? I'm picturing schoolyards, office space, bridge clubs ... anywhere one who thrilled to Harold Lloyd's wow finish could share excitement with those who as yet had not. It wasn't a matter of selling something you thought was funny to friends who may or may not agree. This was breathtaking for anyone with a pulse. In the name of comedy, Lloyd had outdone all of action men, including Fairbanks, Mix, the lot. He also relaxed gags in service to romance, putting his love exchange with Jobyna Ralston among most affecting done by movies that year. Harold Lloyd had become a figure longing hearts could identify with, and that popularized him across boards of age and gender. Can someone confirm or deny that Lloyd was liked best of all comedians by 20's women? Based on evidence like Girl Shy, I'm betting he was.
Hal Roach said that Lloyd was not naturally funny, more an actor who played comedy. Lloyd himself may have agreed, but not to be ignored is amazing physicality he lent pell-mell set-pieces like in Girl Shy. Fresh look at that (recently on TCM) tempts me to place Harold near Buster Keaton's rung, not forgetting ten finger advantage Buster and other stunt comics had. Lloyd blasting off half a hand didn't slow him. Harold's offscreen triumph over adversity mirrors onscreen never-say-die that Keaton displayed, but then all of best comedians shared ultra-initiative in face of obstacles. I'd say Lloyd had a most of it in real life, even if his in an end was most charmed (wealthy the whole way, no ruinous vices, well-regarded by
One topic Lloyd fudged was doubling used for some of climb thrills. Better experts than me can tell what part of Girl Shy's race saw him stunted by others. Again it wasn't ego that kept Lloyd quiet. A big part of sales hinged on real peril he exposed himself to. Harold was the Houdini of funny men, worth buying a ticket for just to see if he'll survive a latest ordeal. He and westerner Tom Mix were unique for personal danger as part/parcel of picture-making. The 20's was an era for daredevils. Do we still have such appetite for lives at risk? A last to laugh at death that I recall was Evel Knievel, but maybe there are a hundred as brave on daily TV, a likelihood given our hundreds of channels. Maybe it's tougher for chance-takers to become really famous, especially if there's glut of them. Do we now live in a world overpopulated with Harold Lloyds?
Change-of-pace Girl Shy slowed speed from gag-a-minute of past Lloyds, that a gamble for first independent effort this was (previous HL's were for Hal Roach). Just as he donned glasses to normalize, so now would Harold soften pace to let us better empathize with his alter-ego. He would henceforth be "Harold," perhaps "Hubby" (Hot Water) or as in Girl Shy, "The Poor Boy," each interchangeable. Lloyd led polls for comedy most liked at its peak, which makes his going out of fashion by the 30's so much the more ironic. Girl Shy and all of Lloyd strike me as sunniest fun-making on 20's record. Does anything of the era put us so close to the streets of
More Harold Lloyd at Greenbriar Archive: Harold's Home Movies, An Eastern Westerner, Ask Father, Safety Last, Bumping Into Broadway, and Speedy.