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His Royal Slyness (1920)

An American book salesman (Lloyd) is persuaded to go to the kingdom of Thermosa to impersonate the Prince. He is greeted by a peasants' revolt before the real prince shows up to claim his ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
The American Boy
...
Princess Florelle
...
Prince of Rochquefort
Gus Leonard ...
King Razzamatazz / Bolshevik orator
...
The Prince's tutor
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Storyline

An American book salesman (Lloyd) is persuaded to go to the kingdom of Thermosa to impersonate the Prince. He is greeted by a peasants' revolt before the real prince shows up to claim his throne and princess. The revolution succeeds and the American is elected president of the new republic. Written by Herman Seifer <alagain@aol.com>

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Comedy | Short

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8 February 1920 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der falsche Prinz  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Later remade as Long Fliv the King (1926), starring Charley Chase and Oliver Hardy. See more »

Goofs

The vamp's apartment number changes several times between 16 and 17. See more »

Connections

Remade as Long Fliv the King (1926) See more »

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User Reviews

 
His Majesty, the American
23 February 2002 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

His Royal Slyness, one of the better two-reel comedies Harold Lloyd made at the Hal Roach Studio, takes up a favorite theme in the pop culture of its day: the American who travels to an exotic land and somehow becomes King. He might be a lookalike for the real King, or an unwitting patsy surrounded by plotters, or a castaway believed to command supernatural powers. He may be a blank-faced innocent like Harry Langdon in Soldier Man, or a cheerful if accident-prone regular guy like Charley Chase in Long Fliv the King, each of whom comes to find that he rather enjoys the perks of monarchy but can't handle the palace intrigue. In Lloyd's version the court is corrupt, the peasants are getting angry, and it's time to make the kingdom safe for Democracy.

These stories are always set in fictional kingdoms and often employ elements of social and political satire that would likely have been less acceptable to contemporary audiences if set in any recognizable place. The court depicted in His Royal Slyness is an amusingly jumbled patchwork of eras and cultures which mixes bits of Elizabethan, Victorian, and Mittel European costuming and decor, but the angry revolutionaries gathered in the village square are very definitely patterned after the era's Bolsheviks. The Russian Civil War was at its height in 1920, and American audiences were seeing people who looked like this in their newspapers and newsreels on a daily basis. Interestingly, despite the prevailing anti-Red sentiment in the U.S. at the time, the people responsible for this comedy seemed to take the angry protesters seriously, and didn't play them for easy laughs: there are no wild-eyed bomb-throwers, and no fleas in anyone's beard. The courtiers, on the other hand, are useless, decadent and drunk. We can only wonder if the filmmakers intended some sort of political commentary by casting character actor Gus Leonard as both "King Razzamatazz" and an angry, bedraggled orator outside the palace walls.

When the story begins, Harold is a brash door-to-door salesman, a dead ringer for a dissolute Prince who is in America supposedly going to school. The Prince (played by Harold's real life older brother, Gaylord) is actually playing hooky and spending all his time with his vamp-y girlfriend, and doesn't feel like going home when he is summoned. Harold, who happens along at just the right moment, is persuaded, Prisoner of Zenda-style, to assume the Prince's identity and go in his place. Once he arrives in court, Harold tries to ingratiate himself with the chilly nobles, flirts with some cute pages (girls, of course), and then romances the Prince's fiancée. But the real Prince-- jilted by his American mistress --returns, and Harold is tossed out. Almost immediately, and quite by accident, Harold finds himself leading the mob of rebels storming the palace. The monarchy is overthrown, Harold is installed as President, and, in one last political joke, becomes a despot immediately, issuing orders which are quickly and fearfully obeyed!

Okay, so Jonathan Swift it ain't, but His Royal Slyness is a highly enjoyable comedy with undeniable elements of political satire. While it's not as slickly-made or laugh-packed as Charley Chase's Long Fliv the King (which in my opinion is the funniest of these mythical kingdom shorts), it is nonetheless amusing and surprisingly sharp, and also presents a good sample of Harold Lloyd's evolving comic style. The star himself comes off quite well here: he's young, trim, and decidedly more flirty with the ladies than the later, girl-shy Harold. The supporting cast features such Lloyd stalwarts as Snub Pollard, Noah Young, and Mildred Davis, who would soon become Mrs. Harold Lloyd and retire from performing. The film is also interesting as a kind of dry run for the classic Why Worry? of 1923, in which Harold would once more fall afoul of violent plotters in an exotic foreign land.


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