Walter Lundin

Now or Never (1921, Fred C. Newmeyer and Hal Roach)

Now or Never takes a long time to get to the basic comedic plot–Harold Lloyd is stuck taking care of a little kid on a train ride. The kid, played by Anna Mae Bilson, is absolutely adorable and a perfect foil for Lloyd. She’s his costar, not romantic interest Mildred Davis, which is somewhat unfortunate.

The film takes a kitchen sink approach, with Lloyd not just speeding in a car, but also hopping a train before getting onboard Never‘s principal train. About fifteen minutes could easily come off the front, since it doesn’t feature Lloyd and Bilson together.

Roach and Newmeyer’s direction, even of the pointless parts, is excellent and Lloyd’s good, which makes Never painless (if still overlong). The finale, when Lloyd’s on top of the train–an inevitability for train movies–is fantastic. The stunt work is mesmerizing.

It’s cute and very likable, but fairly shallow overall.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Fred C. Newmeyer and Hal Roach; written by 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) and Anna Mae Bilson (The Lonesome Little Child).


Get Out and Get Under (1920, Hal Roach)

Like a lot of silent shorts, Get Out and Get Under has three distinct phases. The first phase involves Harold Lloyd as a suitor for Mildred Davis. He’s got to race to stop her wedding. This phase sets a certain expectation for Get Out‘s pace; the rest of the short doesn’t live up to it.

Instead, the second phase is this incredibly laid back comedy of inconvenience. It’s not errors, just little things adding up. There are some good laughs in this section (the best laughs in the short), but it also establishes Lloyd’s character as a callous dimwit. Lloyd’s still likable because he’s Lloyd but there’s nothing to the character.

The third section is a lengthy chase involving Lloyd and some motorcycle cops. Again, it’s boring. The most compelling moment is when the cops think their shooting him for speeding.

Get Out isn’t bad, it’s just wholly uninspired filmmaking.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Produced and directed by Hal Roach; titles by H.M. Walker; director of photography, Walter Lundin; released by Pathé Exchange.

Starring Harold Lloyd (The Boy), Mildred Davis (The Girl) and Fred McPherson (The Rival).


Among Those Present (1921, Fred C. Newmeyer)

Newmeyer takes Harold Lloyd to a country house in Among Those Present and sets him loose in front of a bunch of snobs. Lloyd plays a variation of his regular character, but this time with additions. For much of the short, he’s posing as a British lord, which showcases Lloyd’s acting ability.

The short has already established him as the likable Lloyd standard, so seeing him be an English snob is a lot of fun. The persona melts, of course, when he meets Mildred Davis. But Lloyd’s coat check boy proves to be quite an acceptable suitor, regardless of society status.

Among Those Present has three distinct periods, with the second being Lloyd’s impersonating in society and the final one being him on a fox hunt. Things do not go well on the hunt.

The short has many good laughs, but the plot structure and acting really set it apart.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

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

Starring Harold Lloyd (O’Reilly, The Boy), Mildred Davis (Miss O’Brien, The Girl), James T. Kelley (Mr. O’Brien, the Father), Aggie Herring (Mrs. O’Brien, the Mother), Vera White (Society Pilot) and William Gillespie (Hard-Boiled Party).


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).


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).


An Eastern Westerner (1920, Hal Roach)

In An Eastern Westerner, Harold Lloyd plays a Manhattan playboy whose antics land him out West. Not the antics where he destroys a dance hall in the opening sequence, which nicely establishes the character, but the ones where his parents catch him.

Westerner‘s opening sequence, where Lloyd is willing to fight bigger men (or at least get back at them), does a lot of work. Later, when he’s in a saloon and surrounded by dangerous men, his behavior makes more sense.

The story–Lloyd doesn’t have any drama inherent to himself–involves a rich, tough louse (played by Noah Young), who’s after a girl, played by Mildred Davis. In the interest of narrative expediency, Lloyd falls for Davis the moment he meets her. Most of the rest of Westerner is fall-out from his affections.

Lloyd’s likability and antics are Westerner‘s whole show. He’s more than up to the task.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

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

Starring Harold Lloyd (The Boy), Mildred Davis (The Girl) and Noah Young (Tiger Lip Tompkins).


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