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Just Neighbors (1919)

 |  Short, Comedy  |  13 July 1919 (USA)
6.1
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 233 users  
Reviews: 7 user | 1 critic

Suburban neighbors (Lloyd and Pollard) join together to build a garden shed, but through carelessness, wind up ruining the garden, as well as the laundry, which is drying in the yard. ... See full summary »

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Title: Just Neighbors (1919)

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The Neighbor
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Storyline

Suburban neighbors (Lloyd and Pollard) join together to build a garden shed, but through carelessness, wind up ruining the garden, as well as the laundry, which is drying in the yard. Further mayhem ensues when chickens are set loose. Written by Herman Seifer <alagain@aol.com>

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Genres:

Short | Comedy

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Release Date:

13 July 1919 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Deux bons voisins  »

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1.33 : 1
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Connections

Edited into American Masters: Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius (1989) See more »

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User Reviews

 
He's on his way
3 March 2006 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

This is one of Harold Lloyd's early short comedies, and while it's far from great there are hints here and there of the winning formula he was striving for, and that he would achieve in his masterworks of the '20s. Just Neighbors features a sympathetic protagonist we can relate to, a guy who struggles with the familiar frustrations of middle-class existence. Harold has his faults, but over all we like him and want to see him succeed. The movie gets off to a promising start, drawing us into Harold's world with an introductory title card that is nicely phrased and worth quoting in full: "There are moments in our lives-- especially when we cut it rather fine in catching our train home, after a hard day at the office --that we instinctively feel the Fates deliberately put themselves out, in a mad endeavor to impede our progress." We all have bad days and can relate to those words, right? And just as we're admiring the writer's style, a cheeky postscript adds: "You note that we begin well." They do indeed. Harold is frantically rushing to the bank, trying to reach a teller's window before closing time -- an urgent matter in the days before ATMs -- but when he collides with an old lady he takes the time to help her gather up her parcels, and then he stops not once but twice to give donations to a Red Cross nurse and a Salvation Army lass. In some of his early comedies Harold (like young Chaplin at Keystone) could be aggressive and downright rude, but on this occasion we know from the very outset that he's a nice guy.

At the bank Harold encounters his next door neighbor, played by frequent co-star Snub Pollard, and their friendly relationship is established. After dealing with various frustrations at the bank they return together to their suburban neighborhood, where we meet 1) Snub's baby daughter, 2) Harold's dog, and 3) the guys' wives. Harold is married to cute, dark-eyed Bebe Daniels, while Snub's wife (Margaret Joslin) is hefty and jovial. All seems hunky-dory in suburbia until Harold attempts to help Snub build a chicken coop in his backyard. At first Harold is patronizing, indicating 'Step aside, I'll show you how it's done,' but he proves to be seriously inept at the job. Unfortunate accidents occur, and tensions escalate. Harold's dog goes after Snub's chickens; Bebe inadvertently sprays Snub's wife with the garden hose, windows get broken, and before you know it, it's full-scale war. Harold and Snub wind up face-to-face at their backyard fence, choking each other. But when Snub's baby daughter wanders into a genuinely dangerous situation all hostilities are brushed aside. She's rescued in a surprising fashion, and the warring neighbors reconcile.

The twist at the end involving the baby is a definite indication that Lloyd and his colleagues were trying to introduce stronger elements of "heart" into these little stories. But where Just Neighbors is concerned the twist comes awfully late in the game, only moments before the film is over. Up to that point, most of the running time is taken up with slapstick ineptitude and fighting. Harold is likable enough here, but we wait in vain for his great comic set-pieces. The gags are mildly amusing at best, and eventually comedy gives way to combat. Still, while not terribly memorable in itself, this short points the way towards Lloyd's mature works such as Grandma's Boy and Hot Water, where a fine mix of comedy, heart, and sympathetic characters would result in something really special.


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