Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Hot Water (1924)

A few days ago I watched my first Harold Lloyd film in quite a while, DR. JACK (1922). I enjoyed it a great deal and resolved to catch up with more of the Lloyd films I've not yet seen, as I've never watched one yet which I didn't enjoy!

This time I chose the only unseen title from the half-dozen films he made costarring the enchanting Jobyna Ralston. This was Lloyd and Ralston's third film together, and their chemistry here, as in all their films together, is magical. She is sweet and funny and always completely believes in Harold. I only wish they'd made even more movies as a team.

HOT WATER has a brief running time of 59 minutes, and it's basically three set pieces starring Lloyd and Ralston as adoring newlyweds.

In the first section of the movie, Harold attempts to ride a streetcar carrying a huge load of groceries, topped off by a (live!) turkey he won in a store raffle; in the next section, he surprises his wife with a brand-new car, which is promptly destroyed in a series of misadventures on its maiden drive; and in the final segment Harold mistakenly believes he's poisoned his harridan of a mother-in-law (Josephine Crowell).

The mystery of the movie is how a woman as sweet as Ralston's "Wifey," as she's listed in the credits, came from such an odious family! In addition to her overbearing mother, Wifey has a lazy older brother (Charles Stevenson) and a bratty little brother (Mickey McBan).

HOT WATER isn't in the same league as Lloyd's best films, but any Lloyd film is worth watching, and the movie contains some wonderful moments. My favorite scene occurred when the car drives up on a sidewalk, where a "sidewalk elevator" meant for basement deliveries raises the car up in the air, with all five cast members inside! (It got me to wondering if such contraptions still exist anywhere in Los Angeles...especially as basements aren't especially common in Southern California.)

Harold trying to wrangle a turkey while a spider crawls through his pants is also quite amusing, and I think I laughed out loud near the end, as the tipsy Harold misunderstood everything he was hearing and jumped to the conclusion he'd killed his mother-in-law. There was some very clever writing in that section.

Hopefully after the end of the movie "Hubby" and "Wifey" moved far, far away from her family!

I thought I recognized Bunker Hill in Los Angeles during the car sequence, which was confirmed by John Bengston's fabulous book SILENT VISIONS: DISCOVERING EARLY HOLLYWOOD AND NEW YORK THROUGH THE FILMS OF HAROLD LLOYD. The way Lloyd films document bits of Los Angeles as it looked in the '20s only adds to my enjoyment. Some of the buildings seen in the movie, such as the apartment house in the background where Lloyd and Ralston first meet, are still standing today, over 90 years later.

HOT WATER was directed by Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor. It was filmed by Walter Lundin.

HOT WATER is available on DVD as part of the third volume of the superb Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection, released by New Line.

Harold Lloyd films previously reviewed at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings: DR. JACK (1922), 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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