Harold Bledsoe, a botany student, is called back home to San Francisco, where his late father had been police chief, to help investigate a crime wave in Chinatown. Written by
Herman Seifer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Began shooting as a silent in August, 1928 at Metropolitan Studios, it would become an agonizingly long and complicated production. It was finally released on October 12, 1929 as a talkie after largely being re-shot with another director (Clyde Bruckman) as a talkie (marking the first time Lloyd worked from a script) and painstakingly edited down from an original 16-reels (some 2 hours and forty-five minutes) to 12-reels. The silent version cost $521,000 and another $281,000 was spent on the sound negative. While the novelty of hearing Lloyd speak made it his largest grossing hit since _Freshman, The (1925)_, those steep production costs resulted in a huge drop in net profits from his earlier features. See more »
In many of the dubbed scenes, the voices are out of synchronization with the actors' lip movements. See more »
This film was started as a silent and finished as a sound film. One would expect, then, to see some classic Lloyd "silent" comedy sequences, but this is a very disappointing and largely unfunny film. Lloyd's hallmark was always fresh, original, well-worked-out visual gags, but the poorly timed shenanigans here often remind one of something below the Three Stooges: the Bowery Boys, maybe. In virtually every other Lloyd film, regardless of whether he was shy, cocky, a success or a bumbler, his character was always inventive, thinking up ingenious solutions to the problems he found himself in. In this film, much of the humor is based on his simple stupidity. There are endless really primitive early action gags: one character gets the bad guys to chase him while the another stands behind a large crate and bats them on the head as they go by; a character takes a swing with a club to hit someone in front of him and accidentally hits someone creeping up behind him; a friend puts his hand on Lloyd's shoulder so he won't get lost in the dark, but when Lloyd gets back into the light the hand on his shoulder is that of a foe. These and other familiar lightweight gags abound, and the Lloyd's imaginative building of original gags is nowhere to be seen. In addition, nearly identical weak gags are sometimes repeated several times in a row. The bumbling around in a chinatown basement just seems interminable.
What happened? Lloyd's films before and after this one are all classics of top-notch comedy. This is a lapse that's unique in Lloyd's career.
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