Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Why Worry? (1923) at the TCM Classic Film Festival

It's time for another entry in my periodic series looking back at individual screenings from the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival!

This year's TCM Classic Film Festival offered many special viewing experiences, but the most memorable for me was the Egyptian Theatre screening of Harold Lloyd in WHY WORRY? (1923).

WHY WORRY? was screened on Friday, April 11th, the Festival's first full-length day. It especially stood out among the 14 films seen as it was shown with a live orchestra performing a new score by Carl Davis.

The theatre was packed for an evening which began with Leonard Maltin briefly interviewing Harold Lloyd's granddaughter, Suzanne. Suzanne has been tireless in her work to preserve her grandfather's film legacy, and she was clearly thrilled to be present for such a special experience, with a large, enthusiastic audience buzzing with anticipation at the prospect of seeing the movie. The excitement grew with the appearance of Maestro Davis and the start of the film.

WHY WORRY? tells the story of Harold Van Pelham (Lloyd), a wealthy young hypochondriac who embarks on a South American sojourn for his "health," accompanied by his nurse (Jobyna Ralston) and valet (Wallace Howe).

Once in South America, Harold finds he's wandered into the midst of a revolution -- which he finds an annoyance as it's interrupting his vacation! Harold energetically attempts to put an end to the fighting so he can resume his rest...the end result being the realization by all that Harold is perfectly healthy.

WHY WORRY? may not be classic Lloyd on the level of titles like SAFETY LAST! (1923), GIRL-SHY (1924), or THE FRESHMAN (1925), but this 90-year-old film delighted its audience. Some of the film's sight gags are laugh-out-loud funny; the unexpected moment when Harold climbed a friendly giant (John Aasen) caused me to laugh until I had tears in my eyes. I just couldn't stop chuckling over it! There are many similarly funny moments.

As is the case in several other Lloyd films, lovely Jobyna Ralston is delightful as Harold's devoted, if perhaps skeptical, nurse. For much of this short 63-minute film her role takes a back seat to Harold and the giant, but she finally moves front and center towards the film's climax.

The live score was so perfectly synchronized that at one point I was startled to realize that I'd forgotten the music was live! Davis's score was charming, with slight Latin riffs here and there, in keeping with the film's South American setting. When the film came to its end the audience jumped to its feet and cheered its appreciation for Davis and the other musicians.

WHY WORRY? was directed by Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor.

Those not fortunate enough to see WHY WORRY? at the TCM Fest or when it was screened on Turner Classic Movies a few weeks later can watch it as part of the outstanding New Line DVD set The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection Vol. 1.

My friend Aurora was also in the audience at WHY WORRY? and wrote about it at Once Upon a Screen.

After WHY WORRY? there was another memorable moment, as KC, Angela, and I literally ran down Hollywood Boulevard to get to the Chinese multiplex, hoping to make it in time for the screening of the pre-Code EMPLOYEES' ENTRANCE (1933). Happily, we did make it in time, and we also enjoyed a special "Pre-Code 101" lecture by Bruce Goldstein of New York's Film Forum prior to the showing.


Blogger KC said...

I don't think I ever told you that I had popped blisters on my feet after that run! It was such a busy day that I never even noticed them forming in the first place. Totally movie-tized.

7:29 PM  

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