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In this early short Harold Lloyd sneaks into a movie studio in order to locate an attractive young lady he's just met at a snack bar. He's retrieved a letter she dropped and wants to return it to her, but it's pretty clear that his interest extends beyond mere politeness. (She's the adorable young Bebe Daniels, so this is easy to understand.) The movie studio setting provides Harold with lots of opportunities to do what comedians do in comedies like this one: flirt with actresses, anger the studio brass, and dash through sets disrupting everything.
It's always fun to see behind-the-scenes films from early Hollywood days. Whether the lead comic is Chaplin, Mabel Normand, or the Our Gang kids, you can count on some amusing moments as well as interesting looks at the studios where these folks worked. Admittedly a sense of déjà vu sets in after you've seen a few examples, but the more lively efforts, such as Chaplin's Behind the Screen and the Our Gang short Dogs of War, are highly enjoyable.
Hey There was made when Lloyd was still refining his style, so consequently it doesn't hold up next to his great achievements of the '20s, but it's a pleasant short that has its moments. The best thing about it is the boundless energy Harold displays, even when his character is overly aggressive or callous. (The Tramp character found in Chaplin's apprentice efforts at Keystone shares the same traits.) Harold is resourceful, too. This film offers a routine taken directly from Lloyd's real-life experience as a novice movie extra at Universal, when he disguised himself as an actor in order to slip past the studio gatekeeper. Here Harold's disguise -- a bow-tie that doubles as a mustache -- doesn't fool anybody, but he devises an alternate stratagem and slips in. Once inside, Harold disguises himself more successfully as a laborer and helps another workman hoist a piano, but when his hat falls off he becomes overly concerned with retrieving it, and leaves the other fellow to handle the piano on his own. When a convenient midget happens by, Harold maneuvers the little guy into his own former position under the piano and then pushes him along. (This is the sort of gag Lloyd would soon outgrow.) Harold soon makes enemies who chase him through the sets, ruining takes in the movies people are trying to crank out in the midst of all the chaos. Eventually he finds Bebe and resolves the matter of the lost letter, but things do not end happily for our hero. Incidentally, it's striking how often Lloyd's early short comedies end on a downbeat note, as if he was rehearsing ideas for his more nuanced and dramatic later works.
All in all, Hey There is a cute and pleasant one-reeler that gives us a good look backstage at the Rolin Studio, as the Hal Roach lot was known at the time. It's a also a good look at young Harold Lloyd, on his way up the Hollywood ladder.
Casting note: According to the IMDb this film features the debut of June Havoc, best remembered as the sister of Gypsy Rose Lee and immortalized (to her displeasure) as "Baby June" in the stage musical Gypsy. Havoc was around 4 or 5 years-old when Hey There was made. I've seen the film several times and can't spot her anywhere, in fact there are no children in it at all. It's possible that surviving prints are incomplete, but it's also possible that Baby June's actual movie debut was in some other film.
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