This year I've been enjoying watching a variety of new-to-me types of movies, from a Japanese drama to George O'Brien "B" Westerns to programmers directed by Lew Landers to the silent films of Harold Lloyd.
Tonight I followed up seeing Lloyd's SAFETY LAST! (1923) and
GIRL SHY (1924) by watching THE KID BROTHER (1927), which proved to be another very special film.
Lloyd plays Harold Hickory, the runt of a family which consists of his father, Sheriff Hickory (Walter James) and two huge, obnoxious brothers (Leo Willis and Olin Francis). Harold keeps house for the family and is constantly dismissed by the rest of the family as inadequate.
Harold's life changes the minute he meets Mary Powers (Jobyna Ralston), who arrives in Hickoryville with a medicine show. Mary, whose father owned the medicine show but recently passed on, is unhappy and frightened of the leering, oily men who work in the medicine show (Constantine Romanoff and Eddie Boland). Thanks to Mary's encouragement, Harold becomes one determined man when confronting problems; he not only proves to be Mary's knight in shining armor, he saves his father from a crisis.
Ralston is not only a very sensitive actress, she matches Lloyd's comic timing and has some marvelous reactions. That said, the timing and visuals in the film as a whole are quite remarkable. One of my favorite moments was when Harold is confronted by the neighbors' mean dog, and we suddenly see that Harold had planned ahead, producing a cat to distract the dog! The film is packed with such moments which are great fun for the unsuspecting viewer to discover.
The Lloyd films have done a lot to encourage my interest in silent films, and if all goes well I'm going to combine a couple of this year's new interests by seeing George O'Brien in the "silent to sound" transition-era film NOAH'S ARK (1927) at UCLA tomorrow night.
THE KID BROTHER runs 82 minutes, It was directed by Ted Wilde and J.A. Howe, with IMDb also noting uncredited directing contributions by Lewis Milestone and Harold Lloyd. The cinematographer was Walter Lundin.
THE KID BROTHER is available on DVD from New Line Cinema in The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection, Vol. 2. It has a beautiful musical score composed by Carl Davis. Extras include a commentary track.
It's also been released on VHS.
THE KID BROTHER was recently shown on Turner Classic Movies, so perhaps it will turn up there again in the future.
For more on this movie, Will wrote about it last year at Cinematically Insane, and here's a short photo tribute to wonderful Jobyna Ralston.