Roy Brooks

Number, Please? (1920, Fred C. Newmeyer and Hal Roach)

Number, Please? is split into three very different parts. First, Harold Lloyd is trying to win back his ex-girlfriend (Mildred Davis), who’s just an awful human being, from her current beau, played by Roy Brooks. The men have to find her missing dog. This section isn’t much fun as there are constant reminders Davis isn’t exactly a prize.

Second is a lengthy sequence where Lloyd tries to make a telephone call. While it’s interesting as evidence of how phones worked in 1920, the sequence relies entirely on people being mean or lazy. The jokes are genial, but uninspired.

The third section, however, is wonderful slapstick. Lloyd is running around the Venice Beach amusement park trying to get rid of a hot purse. It’s great use of locations, but also fantastic physical gags.

Lloyd’s great throughout and directors Roach and Newmeyer have some startling good moments.

Overall, Number is successful.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Fred C. Newmeyer and Hal Roach; titles by H.M. Walker; director of photography, Walter Lundin; produced by Roach; released by Pathé Exchange.

Starring Harold Lloyd (The Boy), Mildred Davis (The Girl) and Roy Brooks (The Rival).


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).


High and Dizzy (1920, Hal Roach)

Sometimes low concept is the best concept. High and Dizzy concerns a drunken Harold Lloyd and his adventures about town with his sidekick, played by Roy Brooks. Lloyd and Brooks get into all sorts of trouble, some predictable, some not, and it just makes for a pleasant comedy.

It helps, of course, Lloyd can be acrobatic–whether he’s scaling a building or just hopping over a desk–because it maintains the action quotient.

Dizzy‘s not just about a drunken Lloyd, however. It’s about a failing new doctor drunken Lloyd who’s in love with a patient. The short’s structure is, though contrived, rather nice. At the beginning, a sober Lloyd falls for Mildred Davis. He falls so hard, he doesn’t even get her diagnosis, which comes back as a plot point later.

Roach, as usual, competently directs without being interesting.

The finale’s a little forced, but Dizzy‘s already succeeded.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Produced and directed by Hal Roach; written by Frank Terry; director of photography, Walter Lundin; released by Pathé Exchange.

Starring Harold Lloyd (The Boy), Roy Brooks (His Friend), Mildred Davis (The Girl) and Wallace Howe (Her Father).


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