Harold Hall, an accident prone young man with little or no acting ability, desperately wants to be in pictures. After a mix-up with his application photograph, he gets an offer to have a ... See full summary »
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Harold Hall, an accident prone young man with little or no acting ability, desperately wants to be in pictures. After a mix-up with his application photograph, he gets an offer to have a screen-test, and goes off to Hollywood. At the studio, he does everything wrong and causes all sorts of trouble. But he catches the fancy of a beautiful actress, and eventually the studio owner recognizes him as a comic genius. Written by
John Oswalt <email@example.com>
MOVIE CRAZY is one of Harold Lloyd's very best films, and that includes his silents. Sound complements his visual gags and adds depth to the story's characters without slowing down the humor.
What really makes this film singular is his relationship with the femme lead. Constance Cummings, one of the great, forgotten thirties performers, provides a complexity of character unique in this kind of comedy, certainly for the time. She's not a tacked-on "love interest;" her relation to Lloyd is integral to the story and essential to the success of the film. Her character is cosmopolitan, and an interesting aspect of it is her relationship to her slim, attractive and cultured black maid (NOT your usual thirties movie maid!) who seems more of a companion than a maid. At first Cummings finds Lloyd ridiculous, then irritating, but after a while she finds his natural affinity for disaster strangely interesting and she becomes fond of him. She's amused by him, and toys with him in an affectionate way.
Laughter is a mysterious, fragile thing. Among other things, it can be injured by too big an advance expectation. And some comedy needs an audience for fullest effect: Lloyd's comedy is that type. (Keaton, on the other hand, works as well in solitude.) Seeing this film with a large audience, I was helpless with laughter at numerous points in the film. The effect may not be the same if you see it on television, alone.
This is not a perfect film (but then really great films are rarely perfect). The sequence where he accidentally dons a magician's coat is funny, but too long and a bit too mechanically calculated. His battle with the villain on a waterlogged movie set meets the requirements for an action-filled finale, but is not the film's most inventive sequence. But the best sequences are terrific.
Partly because of the long-time unavailability of his films until recent years, Harold Lloyd has received critical short shrift from the silent comedy mavens. Keaton and Chaplin are demi-gods, and Laurel & Hardy and Langdon have been fully rehabilitated (if ever they were in disrepute), but Lloyd is still in the shadow, and that's unfair. Whatever else he is, Lloyd was consistently the FUNNIEST of them all, and his gags are always fresh, inventive and original. (I say this having seen nearly all the films of all these great performers.) The Lloyd character, too, though it varied from film to film, was never just a cipher, but a real, fully developed persona.
Seen in the right circumstances, MOVIE CRAZY can hold its own with filmdom's greatest classic comedies.
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