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I was flipping through the channels last night and noticed a Harold Lloyd marathon on AMC. His granddaughter Suzanne has rereleased many of his films and was on the channel talking about the careers of her grandfather and grandmother (Mildred Davis, "the girl" in this film). The characters are sweet and loving and Harold Lloyd comes off as the lovelorn and innocent boy whose greatest wish is to marry his sweetheart. When he thinks she is in love with another, he plans to kill himself rather than live without her. Attempted suicide has never been so funny. Especially hilarious is the painstaking care he takes in writing the suicide note. My children (ages 5, 10, and 13) were so amused by Lloyd's antics that I was amazed. They never thought that silent films could be so expressive and funny. I love the fact that this art form is appreciated and shown on television for all to see and fall in love with all over again.
This is one of Harold Lloyd's best short movies, with some very
imaginative material and a lot of energy, making it quite entertaining
and technically impressive. It was made during the period when Lloyd
was more-or-less gradually transforming his screen persona, and both
the tempo and the material benefit from the emergence of his upbeat,
go-getter, slightly amoral character.
The story has two main sequences, both of which do very well in getting a lot of mileage out of an offbeat idea. The first part has Lloyd using his imagination to drum up business for an osteopath. This sequence has some funny gags, and it also benefits from Lloyd's ability to make a somewhat unscrupulous character seem nevertheless well-meaning and sympathetic.
The second part nicely combines humor and suspense, as Lloyd ends up in a lengthy series of predicaments high in the air. It's very well-crafted, making use of Lloyd's athleticism plus some creative ideas with the props and the setting. It's probably among the most memorable scenes in any of Lloyd's movies. (It's also interesting to note how many of his finest sequences have to do with heights.)
It's fun to watch, and in addition it's quite a display of talent. This is certainly one of the movies that any fan of Harold Lloyd's style of comedy would want to see.
This is the best silent comedy short i've ever seen,and it was made by Harold Lloyd, probably the best of the silent comics.The best parts are when Lloyd, thinking he's lost his girl to another man, tries to kill himself,with funny results.
Never Weaken came a year after the brilliant Haunted Spooks and touches
on some of the same ideas but plays in a very different ways, including
featuring an extended sequence of the stunning stunt-work best
associated with Lloyd.
Where Keaton had his dour expression and acrobatics and Chaplin had the pathos and funny walk of the tramp Lloyd is best remembered for his effervescence and his stunts. The stunts are never better represented than here which sees a protracted, thrilling and funny scene when Harold finds himself stranded on the beams of a building under construction. One gag in this sequence involving a ladder is as good as they come but the whole sequence is a delight.
It might surprise people that a key theme here involves attempted suicide, something Keaton often tackled, but is less associated with the happy-go-lucky Lloyd, but it was something he visited on multiple occasions. Perfectly demonstrating what a fine line exists between comedy and tragedy this scene here explores the banalities that intrude and the difficulties of going through with such an act that when dwelt on are extremely astute but while watched are hilarious. The suicidal scenes of Haunted Spooks have bigger, and funnier gags and this is one extended scene here instead of a series of vignettes but still inspired as Harold figures out how to do it, dismissing various ways for funny, but oddly real reasons. The sequence is at it's best though when he delays the act because he gets caught up in the triviality of a miss-spelling in his suicide note! Lloyd regular (and later his wife) Mildred Davis again appears as the love interest, though has little to do here compared to some.
The film is intriguingly split into three distinct segments, the slapstick laughs of the first section where Harold is trying to get patients for the doctor Mildred works for so she won't be fired; the smart wit of the suicidal second section; and then the thrilling stunts of the final section. Whichever part of Lloyd's art you like best Never Weaken can offer it to you, however as a whole it does feel a little like 3 10 minute shorts playing one after the other.
Typically the title cards remain the most inspired and beautiful of any US silent comedian.
Well worth catching. If you don't know Lloyd you couldn't get a better introduction to his talents.
In a city full of skyscrapers a boy and a girl fall in love between
window ledges. However their romance seems to be under threat when a
lack of patients for her boss's doctor's surgery sees her told she'll
be laid off. In order to keep his office hours relationship alive, the
boy sets out to drum up some business and thus keep her job.
I've not seen enough Harold Lloyd to say whether or not I'm a massive fan but I have certainly never had any great desire to hunt his films down in the same way as I have with Laurel and Hardy (whom I generally adore). However with BBC4's consistently impressive Silent Clown's series of documentaries, I got a rare opportunity to see one of his shorts as selected by Paul Merton. The overly jaunty new score played over the film was a bit of a pain because although it fitted the action on screen, I didn't think it worked for the period the film came from. Regardless I got into the mild humour of Lloyd drumming up injuries on the streets as the film got going until it reached the high (sorry) point of the skyscraper conclusion. This section is pretty much the whole show as it demonstrates his daredevil sense of humour.
Sure he isn't actually 50 stories above the ground but the stunts are still very impressive let me assure you. His timing is good and although I didn't find this hilarious, he is impressive in how he plays the audience for laughs and gasps at the same time. The support cast all play to form but this is all about Lloyd and, considering I'm not a real fan, I did think he was well worth seeing.
Overall an impressive and amusing silent short film. Not as out and out funny as I would have hoped but the skyscraper scrapes are well worth seeing and make the second part of the film much stronger than the rather genial first half.
A HAROLD LLOYD Short Subject.
A lovesick young man must NEVER WEAKEN when he unexpectedly finds himself in a most precarious & dangerous situation.
Here is one of Harold Lloyd's thrill pictures, which offers quick-moving comedy and genuine suspense. The first half of the film has Harold trying to roundup patients for his girlfriend's boss. The second half puts Harold up on the framework of a building under construction - clutching, crawling & careening out over empty space. His obvious athletic ability is made even more remarkable by the fact that he was using only half of his right hand, his disfigurement, caused by a studio accident, hidden by a glove.
Pretty Mildred Davis, who would soon become Mrs. Harold Lloyd, plays the object of his affections.
This is a very good Lloyd short, but in some ways it's like three
totally different movie shorts grafted together. The overall effect,
though, is excellent and this is a wonderful short.
The first portion consists of Harold trying to help his girlfriend keep her job as a receptionist for a chiropractor by, rather unscrupulously, drumming up business for them. Harold is a bit uncharacteristically cruel during these efforts, but I gotta admit they are still quite funny.
The second segment is also a bit uncharacteristic, as Harold mistakenly thinks his girl loves another so he tries repeatedly to kill himself. This is pretty maudlin and I felt just a tiny bit uneasy laughing at suicide.
However, it then transitioned from this into a live-action version of a Sweet Pea and Popeye cartoon. You know, the one where the baby climbs onto a high-rise under construction and nearly gets killed again and again and again. Harold Lloyd handles these stunts very deftly and the film ends when he is saved and he learns that his girl not only wants to marry him but the guy she was talking to earlier turned out to be her brother--the preacher! A cute film.
This is comedy crafted from the material of nightmares, and Harold
Lloyd (or his stunt double) displays a light-footedness and dexterity
that is frankly quite astonishing. When you consider that Lloyd lost a
thumb and finger when a supposedly dud prop bomb exploded in his hand
just a year before this film was made it just adds to the courage he
displays as he wobbles around on the narrow girders of a
partially-constructed skyscraper hundreds of feet in the air. For my
money, his stunts here far outshine those from Safety Last, the feature
Lloyd made a couple of years later, in which he hangs from a clock on
the side of a building.
The storyline isn't much to speak of, and the film is really two movies combined as the first half has little bearing on the second. Harold mistakenly believes his beloved (the future Mrs Lloyd, looking a little like Drew Barrymore in some shots) has fallen for another man and unsuccessfully tries to commit extravagant suicide with a gun and a length of string just as a stray girder from the construction project outside his office lifts the chair on which he is sat out of his office and into mid-air. The scenes in which Lloyd is perched on the chair are teeth-grindingly difficult to watch at times, and your laughter is really an hysterical release of tension rather than amusement at what is taking place on screen. I'd love to have seen this in a cinema back in 1921 the audience reactions must have been something to see, and would have made the viewing experience all the more enjoyable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
.... that's how he happens to finish up clutching on to a girder that
is swinging around on a skyscraper building site. He thinks his girl
doesn't love him anymore and gets the idea from a newspaper article
about a loveless man who takes his own life. First he turns to poison
but that tastes yuckky (even with the loads of sugar he puts in his
glass), then he resorts to knives but they can cut you and the sight of
blood makes Harold weak!!! Then he finds a gun....
The sheer inventiveness is just dazzling. Apart from the spectacle of Harold, just one step away from a fall to oblivion, he is also blindfolded at first. He hears a child playing a harp and thinks he has gone to heaven, he lifts up his blindfold and sees a carved angel but then he hears a Dixieland jazz band and wonders where he is!!!
The first gag sequence is more conventional Lloyd as Harold tries to muster up patients for the doctor next door whose business is going so badly he has to let Harold's girl (Mildred Davis), who is his receptionist, go. Harold finds an acrobat who he gets to do pratfalls in front of a group of elderly people, Harold steps in, gives him a chiropractic workout and hands out the doctor's cards when amazed people think he is actually cured. The fun starts when Harold mistakes a real accident for his friend (who has taken off).
This is just a superb comedy - one of Lloyd's earliest experiments in stunting and where would a Harold Lloyd comedy be without a marvelous score by Robert Israel!!
The title doesn't make any sense, but otherwise this is a terrific
Harold Lloyd short that demonstrates why Lloyd was so beloved.
I watched this shortly after watching another Lloyd short, "Haunted Spooks" (mostly because they come together on the same DVD), and it's very similar in premise to the first half of "Spooks." Lloyd plays a young man who thinks the love of his life is in love with someone else, and he decides to commit suicide. Of course, he's Harold Lloyd, so things don't go as planned, and he instead finds himself dangling above New York city from a construction site. These scenes are real nail biters, as one thing after another threatens to send him plummeting, and Lloyd showcases the dare-devilry that was so common to silent comedy actors from that time.
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