Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tonight's Movie: The Freshman (1925)

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.")

Most of the Lloyd films I've seen to this point have also benefited immeasurably from the charm of the entrancing Jobyna Ralston, Lloyd's leading lady in WHY WORRY? (1923), 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.

2020 Update: I had a great time seeing this film at the Hollywood Legion Theater Drive-In.


Blogger LĂȘ said...

I loved this film! I agree that Jobyna is a cutie and has a lot of charm whenever she is with Lloyd. The title cards are also jokes in themselves, I laughed a lot with them. And Harold's idea of "a cool college boy" was hilarious.

8:07 PM  
Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

I'm glad that you are now a bona fide fan of Harold Lloyd! And I know you are not the biggest fan of silent film so the fact that you found an actor from that era that you enjoy is wonderful!

I'm very behind on my 10 classics for this year. I got stuck on my first one because I loved the film and couldn't figure out how to write about it!

6:43 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm glad you liked it too, Le, and that you're also a Jobyna fan! I think I've watched some of Lloyd's movies as much to enjoy her as him. :)

I'm really enjoying exploring Lloyd's work, Raquel! :) I've only seen 2 of my 10 Classics list but we still have plenty of time! Hope to see another one in the next few days. Good luck! I'm delighted to hear you loved the first one on your list and hope you'll share about it...which title was it?

Best wishes,

11:21 AM  
Blogger KC said...

I need to get to my 10 list too! I've watched a few, but I haven't reviewed one. Don't even get me started on my book list. You've inspired me to finally see The Freshman. I'm a Lloyd fan, so I'm not sure why I haven't done that.

10:06 AM  

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