12 August 2008

Girl Shy (1924)

d. Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor / USA / 82 mins.

When Harold Lloyd retired, he took his films with him. He tightly held their copyrights, re-released them stingily, and asked for such an exorbitant amount for them to be televised that they never were. As a result, a great film like Girl Shy went unseen for years.

If Girl Shy is not the best of Lloyd's four most famous silent pictures, it is certainly his most consistently entertaining, most cogent, and most mad-capped. Its first half is a sweet and touching romance, and its ending – a wild chase to stop his love's wedding that gives Lloyd the opportunity to travel via a train, a trolley, old cars, new cars, a carriage, a motorcycle, a horse, etc. and clearly influenced The Graduate – is as superb on its horizontal plane as the vertical building climb is in Safety Last! (1923). The entire movie is skillfully shot, and it's genuinely funny throughout (a remarkable feat when you consider how unfunny some of Lloyd's other comedies can be). Today he is the "third genius," stuck perpetually behind Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, but with Girl Shy, Harold Lloyd made silent comic gold.


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