It's hard to talk about Harold Lloyd without dragging the “other two” into it, but he stands out for being perhaps the most naturalistic of the great silent comics - a perfectly ordinary guy stuck in the middle of madness.
In Charlie and Buster’s case, they were clearly asking for trouble and took it all in their relentless stride, here Lloyd is no different, but he just looks more... normal. Handsome and well-dressed, his characters represented city man against the upsets of random fortune in a world far more cruel than any of us care for.
Smartly directed by Sam Taylor and produced by Lloyd himself, this was one of the highest grossing films of 1926 – the 12th highest grossing silent film – and yet it wasn’t one of his favourites and he even considered shelving it.
It was his first feature for Paramount and maybe there’d been too much creative interference? But certainly the company’s promotional strength helped pushed the film high.
Maybe it was one of those moments when everything clicks and the audience is ready to really acknowledge the skills of the performer: maybe Lloyd was owed some more success. He made many films in the Twenties and grossed more than Chaplin’s even though that was more through weight of numbers: Charlie took his time. With For Heaven’s Sake, maybe he wasn’t breaking new ground but he was re-treading some of the funniest and most daring tracks in the business: his own.
|Starting the car|
Harold plays an Uptown Boy, J. Harold Manners, a millionaire who sails through life unscathed even if the same cannot be said for his motor vehicles.
|Downtown and uptown coffee|
The money is enough for the old man to fulfill his dream of starting a mission and his pretty young daughter, Hope (Lloyd regular, Jobyna Ralston) – The Downtown Girl – believes it was her writing to Manners that persuaded him to be so generous.
But Harold doesn’t want any ostentatious do-gooding and arrives to take issue with his name being used only to fall completely for Hope…
|Manners meets his match|
|(Borrowed) clothes maketh the man|
There’s a wonderful scene in which Harold and Hope are seemingly sitting on a beach only for the camera to pan up and reveal their true location in a junk yard.
|By the light of the laundry moon...|
|The benefits of open-topped trolley buses...|
If there’s a message here it’s surely that class doesn’t make you happy, only friendship and love and, in truth, that’s when Harold Lloyd becomes the most natural comedian: when he realises that he mustn’t miss his chance for happiness.
|Catching the bus...|