Saturday, August 31, 2013

Tonight's Movie: For Heaven's Sake (1926)

One of the wonderful things about this year's 10 Classics viewing project is that it introduced me to the films of Harold Lloyd.

So far this year I've enjoyed Lloyd's SAFETY LAST! (1923), GIRL SHY (1924), and THE KID BROTHER (1927).

I particularly like the pairing of Lloyd with Jobyna Ralston, his leading lady in GIRL SHY and THE KID BROTHER, and was anxious to see another of the several films they made together. Tonight I watched them in FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE (1926), which is absolutely delightful. The movie has one great sight gag after another, along with sweet romance. Leonard Maltin rates it four stars, and I definitely concur.

Lloyd plays "The Uptown Boy," a rich young man who inadvertently pays for the downtown mission building run by Brother Paul (Paul Weigel) and his lovely daughter (Ralston). Lloyd is instantly smitten with Ralston and soon, in a tour de force sequence, he's rounding up a swarm of lowlifes to come patronize the mission. The couple become engaged, but then Lloyd's old uptown club friends decide to kidnap him on his wedding day...

This is quite a short film, at 58 minutes, but every second is packed with clever visuals, from Lloyd using a hubcap as a helmet during a police shootout to him running down the sidewalk, knocking people over like bowling pins, to the street sign on a runaway bus flipping to read "CEMETERY" in the final chase sequence. I gasped as the bus headed for a pair of trains crossing at an intersection!

My favorite moment of visual poetry was Harold courting Jobyna by moonlight -- and the moon then being revealed to be part of a laundry's neon sign.

I sometimes don't appreciate comedians who engage in a great deal of physical humor -- Laurel and Hardy being an example -- as I prefer witty dialogue; I've been delighted to discover that although Lloyd's silent films have no dialogue, per se, the humor is impressively sophisticated and creative, plotted out to perfection. Lloyd's particular style of physical humor I enjoy, plus some of the title cards are a riot!

Lloyd is great, of course, whether he's trying to survive a crazy ride on a double-decker bus or swooning over sweet Jobyna. I continue to find Jobyna absolutely charming and love her chemistry with Lloyd. I'm glad I still have more of their films ahead of me to see, including THE FRESHMAN (1925).

This film was directed by Sam Taylor and filmed by Walter Lundin.

FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE is available on DVD from New Line Cinema in the Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection, Vol. 3.

Particular kudos go to the score by Robert Israel heard on this DVD, which is exceptionally good.

Highly recommended.


Blogger Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Lloyd is a joy, and his film pairings with Ralston were such fun. Love your description of scenes from this film, especially the "moonlight" scene. He was a particularly eloquent filmmaker.

7:13 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

So glad to know you have enjoyed them too, Jacqueline! It's been fun becoming acquainted with their films for the very first time. I'm constantly impressed with the visual surprises in these films, along with their heart.

Best wishes,

9:24 AM  
Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

I'm glad you are becoming a fan of Harold Lloyd. I plan to see Safety Last on the big screen with live music soon. Yay!

8:04 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm really glad to have made Lloyd's acquaintance this year, Raquel! How wonderful you can see SAFETY LAST! with live music. I remember GIRL SHY was shown with a live orchestra at the TCM Fest a couple years ago and I've been wishing I saw it! Hopefully I'll have an opportunity for something like that in the future. :)

Best wishes,

1:31 PM  

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