12 August 2008

The Kid Brother (1927)

d. Ted Wilde and J.A. Howe / USA / 84 mins.

Harold Lloyd die-hards usually cite 1927's The Kid Brother as their favorite of his work, and it's easy to see why: released on the cusp of talking films, Lloyd plays a hero in a genuine way that is unlike the incidental characters in his other films. Here his character is triumphant, although the plot is also slightly predictable: the youngest and most neglected of a sheriff's three sons, Harold must outwit some traveling criminals who have stolen from the town coffers and impress the woman he loves. It's certainly not a spoiler to say the formula is clearly set up so that we know he'll get the girl, we know he'll impress his father, and we know he'll retrieve the stolen money.

To his credit, Lloyd takes his viewers to a climactic destination in an enjoyable and wild way, bringing us on board an abandoned ship where the thieves are hiding and where the slapstick can be amplified. You can easily spot the influence of Buster Keaton's Our Hospitality (a far, far superior movie) on some of Lloyd's physical humor and sight gags, but that's okay. It's not as good as Girl Shy but it's not as disappointing as The Freshman.


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