Mark Jones

Never Weaken (1921, Fred C. Newmeyer)

Never Weaken combines two of Lloyd’s favorite features (at least from his shorts of the era)… skyscraper derring do and failed suicide attempts. While the former is definitely thrilling, the latter is unpleasant and, in terms of narrative, rather lazy writing.

The short starts strong, with Lloyd out to drum up business so his girlfriend (Mildred Davis) can keep her job. She’s a doctor’s assistant and Lloyd is constantly devising scams to create new patients. This adventure takes up about half Weaken‘s running time and features a great “villain” in Charles Stevenson’s bewildered police officer.

Then Lloyd discovers Davis embracing another man and the suicide kick gets started. As usual, the misfires are funny, but in questionable taste and utterly pointless. Weaken‘s got a fourth the plot it should.

The skyscraper scenes are amazing, but it’d have been better if Lloyd had just done an urban acrobat picture.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Fred C. Newmeyer; written by Hal Roach and Sam Taylor; titles by H.M. Walker; director of photography, Walter Lundin; edited by Thomas J. Crizer; produced by Roach; released by Pathé Exchange.

Starring Harold Lloyd (The Boy), Mildred Davis (The Girl), Roy Brooks (The Other Man), Mark Jones (The Acrobat) and Charles Stevenson (The Police Force).


It’s a Gift (1923, Hugh Fay)

It’s a Gift has such a great plot, it’s impossible it’s going to succeed. There’s a gasoline crisis so the losing oil companies decide to get rid of petroleum all together and instead use a synthetic.

The oil barons approach ‘Snub’ Pollard, an inventor.

The inventions are Gift‘s primary appeal. There are all sorts of contraptions to make regular life (waking, breakfast, dressing) easier. But the space is also conserved by items suiting dual purpose. Part of the pleasure is discovering those purposes.

Because, otherwise, Gift has little to recommend it. Director Fay handles the eventual manic action quite well, but leading man Pollard is lifeless. He’s not convincing as an absent-minded professor.

The script’s lazy and contrived, though there is one scene where Pollard almost gets someone drowned before running off. It’s easily the most exciting scene.

Gift is short, which helps a little. But not much.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Hugh Fay; produced by Hal Roach; released by Pathé Exchange.

Starring ‘Snub’ Pollard (Inventor Pollard), Marie Mosquini (The Girl), William Gillespie (Weller Pump, oil executive), Wallace Howe (Customer) and Mark Jones (Swindler).


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