Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Dr. Jack (1922)

The world lost Harold Lloyd 45 years ago this week, but what a legacy he left behind! His films continue to bring joy and laughter to audiences, closing in on a century after some of them were first released.

It had been too long since my last Lloyd film, so I pulled DR. JACK (1922) out of my "watch soon" stack. At just 59 minutes, it's an easy one to fit in.

It's also a delightful film which goes down very easily -- but then, can't that be said of all Lloyd's films? It certainly applies to all those I've seen; reviews are linked at the end of this post.

Lloyd plays the title character, a country doctor who works "7:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m." and who earned $300 in the previous year but has yet to collect it. We're introduced to the doctor as he rushes out of his house, gobbling breakfast off a tray held by his housekeeper as he hurries to his car. In a series of charming vignettes, Dr. Jack rescues a doll from a well and performs CPR on it, deduces a little boy doesn't want to go to school but saves him from a whoopin', and cheers up a sad little old lady by arranging a visit from her son.

The woman's son is a lawyer who thinks that Dr. Jack's unorthodox methods might be just the thing for his client's daughter (Mildred Davis), who is only referred to as The-Sick-Little-Well-Girl. For reasons which are never clear, the young lady's father (John T. Prince) felt she needed a doctor, and that specialist (Eric Mayne) treats her as though she's deathly ill...making a lot of money in the process.

One look at the young lady and Dr. Jack is dreaming of "castles in the air," and she's as taken with him as he is with her. However, the specialist doesn't want his gravy train to end and works to persuade her father that Dr. Jack should not be allowed to consult on the case any longer. Dr. Jack must find a way to prove that she's perfectly healthy and hopefully win her in the process.

There are many wonderful moments, whether it's Dr. Jack getting out of his moving car, which follows after him as he clears the road of cows, or the doctor hopping in a window to pay a call on a patient. A lengthy set piece near the end of the movie finds the doctor alternating two roles at once, pretending to chase a villain through the house to help demonstrate that the Sick-Little-Well-Girl needs some excitement in her life! Lloyd's physicality in these scenes is at times quite astonishing.

DR. JACK may not be the very best of Harold Lloyd, but it's an hour very well spent.

Lloyd's frequent leading lady Mildred Davis made only one more film with him, the classic SAFETY LAST! (1923), before marrying him in 1923. After a handful of other movies she retired.

For more on Lloyd's leading ladies, also including Bebe Daniels and Jobyna Ralston, here's an excellent article by Annette D'Agostino Lloyd, originally published in 1995.

DR. JACK was directed by Fred C. Newmeyer and the uncredited Sam Taylor. It was filmed by Walter Lundin.

My copy of DR. JACK is part of the Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection, Volume 2 from New Line. It's a wonderful set which includes several other films and loads of extras.

Harold Lloyd films previously reviewed at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings: SAFETY LAST! (1923), WHY WORRY? (1923), GIRL SHY (1924), THE FRESHMAN (1925), FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE (1926), THE KID BROTHER (1927), and THE MILKY WAY (1936).


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