With the end of July just around the corner, it's time for me to get busy viewing this year's list of 10 Classics!
For several reasons, including seeing a significantly higher than usual number of films on a big screen so far this year -- 64 at last count -- I've been slow to check off watching my 10 Classics titles, other than WINCHESTER '73 (1950), which I saw at UCLA.
The second film seen from this year's list was Harold Lloyd's delightful THE FRESHMAN (1925). Having watched several of Lloyd's films over the past two years, including a marvelous screening of WHY WORRY? (1923) with a live orchestra at the TCM Classic Film Festival, I can now say I'm a bona fide fan. His films are smart and funny, never failing to wow me with the well-thought-out routines and even the witty narrative cards. (My favorite in THE FRESHMAN was the description of Tate University as "a large football stadium with a college attached.")
GIRL SHY (1924), FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE (1926), and THE KID BROTHER (1927). She's simply delightful, with exquisite facial expressions and hand movements.
In THE FRESHMAN Harold is off to college, bonding with Peggy (Ralston) over a crossword puzzle on the train. Unfortunately Harold has filled his head with silly ideas about how to be popular at college, and he doesn't realize that most people on campus don't take him seriously. When he learns the crushing truth, he's bolstered by Peggy's steadfast love.
When an opportunity comes up in the Big Football Game for Harold to finally get off the bench, he tells the coach he's taken being on the team seriously, even if the coach thought of him as the water boy, and he gets the unexpected chance to help lead his team toward victory.
There are so many funny and touching scenes in this film, one of my favorites being when Harold rescues a kitten on the auditorium stage. I also loved all his scenes with Peggy, starting with the aforementioned crossword puzzle scene. As they try to think of an endearment which fits the puzzle, saying "Sweetheart," "Precious," and "Darling," another passenger beams at them and says "Isn't it wonderful to be in love?"
A later scene where Harold is cleaning his mirror and Peggy's face appears is magical. My favorite moment, however, is when Harold spies Peggy with a bouquet he gave her, pulling off the petals and saying "He loves me, he loves me not," and he suddenly realizes Peggy loves him.
For those who are curious, according to IMDb the football game was filmed at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, California.
THE FRESHMAN is available in a Blu-ray/DVD combination set from the Criterion Collection.
THE FRESHMAN is also out in a fine DVD release from New Line, with many of the same extras as in the Criterion edition. New Line's Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection Vol. 2 includes other features and shorts including THE KID BROTHER (1927).
THE FRESHMAN can be rented or purchased for streaming from Amazon.
The list of 10 Classic Films I plan to see for the first time in 2014 can be found here.
THE FRESHMAN is highly recommended.