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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
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.
This Harold Lloyd comedy is good overall, and it has some especially
funny moments. It's fun to see Harold and his brother Gaylord on screen
together, and their characters are used to create a good story that
lends itself to some good comedy. The rest of the cast of comic actors
also help out when they have the chance.
Lloyd plays an American salesman with a strong resemblance to a visiting prince (played by Gaylord), who asks the American to appear in his place for some duties at court. Much of the comedy comes from the contrast between the outgoing, aggressive American and the self-indulgent, oafish members of the royal court. It's enjoyable both as comedy and as social satire, and it's also rather interesting as a record of some perceptions that may not have changed all that much. The comedy blends slapstick, sight gags, and other material to make for a good mix.
The revolution sequence brings things to an appropriate climax and ties everything together. Not all of the movie works flawlessly, but most of it is entertaining, and overall it's one of Harold Lloyd's more enjoyable short comedies.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In the end of the film, Harold Lloyd lights his cigarette, while
accidentally triggered a cannon. This is remarkably similar to a still
photo session he participated in, a year earlier (1919) in which he
accidentally lit up a real prop bomb and lost two of his right hand
fingers. It's astonishing how Harold was able to laugh at this tragic
accident so close afterwards.
As for the rest of the film, it's OK, I pretty much agree with wmorrow59's comment, though I didn't find the film as enjoyable as he/she did. "Bumping into Broadway" is the real gem in this KINO-DVD.
His Royal Slyness (1920)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Harold Lloyd plays an American boy who is asked by a lookalike Prince to pretend to be him and marry the Princess (Mildred Davis). Lloyd agrees to do this but once in the new place he finds himself under attack by the locals who believe him to be the real Prince. HIS ROYAL SLYNESS has a couple funny scenes, which makes it worth watching to Lloyd fans but there's still no question that this is far from the actor's best work. I think the best scenes actually happen early on when we see the real Prince trying to make the moves on his mistress. The first sequence where the Prince meets the American contained some simple but effective laughs. The second portion of the film isn't nearly as strong as the American finds himself in a new land, trying to impress a girl and then of course coming under attack by the local people. Lloyd at least gets to show off some of his comic timing and especially during a sequence where he pretends to be a hunchback but the only problem is that the hunch keeps moving places. I think the story itself has enough cuteness to it and especially the story dealing with the Prince and the Princess. Again, this is certainly far from great material but it's worth watching.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film is very similar to two of Harold's later films, A SAILOR-MADE
MAN and WHY WORRY? though HIS ROYAL SLYNESS is a bit rougher and
features a relatively big-name supporting star, Snub Pollard. In the
20s when Harold became perhaps THE preeminent comedian, he no longer
needed or used a co-star.
The film features Harold's real life brother, Gaylord. While Gaylord DID appear in a few other of Lloyd's films, this one is unique because with the same glasses and hairstyle, the two brothers looked almost like identical twins! Oddly, though, Gaylord did not receive an acting credit for the film (though he is listed on IMDb). It was so cool to see them side-by-side--what a treat.
When Harold and Gaylord meet, Gaylord is supposed to be a prince from a far away land that is potentially engaged to a princess. However, Gaylord likes it in America and convinces Harold to go in his place.
When he arrives, Harold finds that the people of this fictitious nation are on the verge of revolution, as most of the country's royalty are a bunch of self-indulgent jerks. One on the only nice ones turns out to be the princess--who is dressed like a commoner. When a crowd recognizes Harold as the prince, they actually try to kill him because their hatred of the nobles is so great! He is able to escape and makes his way to the castle. He notices quickly that the royals and their friends are jerks, but decides to stay because he is thrilled to see who the princess is. The princess could chose Harold or a real prince, played by Snub Pollard. Pollard is a lazy git and she already was infatuated with Harold, so the choice is easy! However, just when she chooses Harold, the real prince he was taking the place for shows up and Harold is pitched out of the castle.
In a rather contrived but funny moment, Harold accidentally fires the cannon at the mansion--signaling the start of a very brief revolution. The revolution is a great success and as a reward for his "bravery", he is made the president! And, considering the princess is Mildred Davies, she is thrilled with marrying him--something she also did in real life! A very cute film that tells a complex and entertaining story. Great stuff and well worth your time.
An American book salesman (Harold 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 (Mildred Davis).
Harold Lloyd has always played second (or third) fiddle to Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, probably even more today (2015) than in his own time. Few today have probably seen any of his films, and many may never have even heard his name. And among his films, this is not amongst the better known (certainly not as much as "Safety Last" or "The Freshman").
But there are some pretty funny moments in this short (which seems to be inspired by "Prince and the Pauper"), particularly coming from Prince Roquefort and his drinking -- he declares a victory for him will cause so much wine to be drank that the corks will block traffic. Wow! Much like Keaton, Lloyd's best comedy is in his physical action... and we get relatively little of that here.
The film was remade in 1927 as "Long Fliv the King", which featured Oliver Hardy, and may be even less well known.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Mildred Davis, as Thermosan Princess Florell, sighs contentedly as she husks this quote to her American crush (Harold Lloyd, in his "Glasses" mode). Apparently not crediting Mark Twain (author of THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER) in any way for his spin on the royal-commoner look-a-likes theme, who could blame Lloyd? After all, Samuel Clemens had been dead a good decade by the time HIS ROYAL SLYNESS played on the big screen, and Clemens\Twain himself gave scant kudos to Charles Dickens, who created a more heroic nobility impersonator (Sidney Carton) in A TALE OF TWO CITIES long before the creators of Huckleberry Finn and SAFETY LAST! picked up this theme. A story of European royalty and revolution was quite topical in 1920, following the execution of Czar Nicholas II and the rest of the Russian royal family slightly earlier (July 17, 1918, because Nick had destroyed the Russian fleet, executed most of his critics, gotten 3.3 million countrymen killed in WWI, squirreled away a $300 billion personal fortune in 2013 dollars, and been declared an actual saint by the Church of Wall Street). Despite its torn-from-the-headlines nature, however, HIS ROYAL SLYNESS keeps to the lighter side of life, as viewers never think for a minute that "Glasses" is about to be shot or beheaded, no matter what his predicament here.
Lloyd, a young book salesman is a doppelganger to the prince who wants to stay in the U.S.Now Lloyd becomes the prince in the kingdom of Thermosa.There he meets the cute princess Florelle and the peasants make him the president of the new republic.His Royal Slyness is a Harold Lloyd two reeler from 1920.Hal Roach is its director.Lloyd and Mildred Davis are perfect together.'Snub' Pollard is hilarious as Lloyd's rival, the drunk Prince of Rochquefort.Gus Leonard plays King Razzamatazz/Bolshevik orator.Noah Young is The Prince's Tutor.Harold's brother Gaylord Lloyd is in an uncredited role playing the prince.The movie is funny in many parts.The first time Harold meets the princess is funny.She is crying as the man beats up the horse, so Harold makes the man drop.And when Harold asks for all those phone numbers from the girls.Or when he starts walking towards one of them and runs into a mirror.A little trivia: this movie was the last one Lloyd made before his hand was blown apart by a prop bomb while making The Haunted Spooks.
Just watched this Harold Lloyd comedy short on the Kino DVD called "The Harold Lloyd Collection". His Royal Slyness is sort of Lloyd's version of "The Prince and the Pauper" with brother Gaylord portraying the prince who convinces lookalike Harold to take his place going back to his country so the princess could pick her royal betrothed there. It seems the real prince is infatuated with a rich socialite. Anyway, the princess (Mildred Davis who would eventually become Harold's real life wife) herself prefers the commoners since most of the royal subjects are loutish drunks, especially the other prince played by Lloyd regular Snub Pollard. Starts slow then becomes quite hilarious once Harold puzzles the subjects with his American carefree attitude. And you won't believe the way the whole thing ends! So on that note, I highly recommend His Royal Slyness.
Once Harold Lloyd began making feature films in 1921 (A Sailor Made Man), some would say that the quality of his films became weaker, and that Hal Roach needed to groom talent elsewhere. He did groom talent elsewhere, and dedicated the 1920's to bringing together the American and the Englishman, 'Laurel and Hardy'.
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