Never Weaken (1921) Poster


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Even my kids enjoyed it!
lizzieloo2121 April 2003
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.
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Another delightful Lloyd/Davis film with some of the best of his trademark stunts
motta80-221 May 2009
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.
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The first half is rather amusing but the skyscraper routine in the second half makes it worth seeing
bob the moo20 June 2006
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.
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Very Imaginative & Quite Entertaining
Snow Leopard3 October 2005
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.
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a lot like three shorts combined
MartinHafer10 May 2006
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.
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Out On A Girder With Mr. Lloyd
Ron Oliver9 September 2003
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.
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funny and brilliant
craigj219 July 1999
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.
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Sometimes Killing Yourself Is Just So Difficult
evanston_dad21 October 2011
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.

Grade: A
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NEVER WEAKEN (Fred Newmeyer, 1921) ***
MARIO GAUCI2 January 2007
This is one of Harold Lloyd's best shorts and the second of his thrill comedies (in chronological order) to be included in this collection. The film can be neatly divided into three sections: the first sees Harold ingeniously gathering patients for the despondent clinic where his beloved, Mildred Davis, works (and which probably influenced Lloyd's later feature FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE [1926]); the second, as was the case with many a Lloyd comedy, he goes through several failed attempts at suicide (when he mistakes Mildred's clergyman brother for her lover!); the last third - and the undeniable highlight - has the star up to his neck in trouble when he ends up high in the air on a construction site (featuring some of Lloyd's most incredible stuntwork, the whole idea was borrowed by Laurel & Hardy for the second half of one of their most popular Silent shorts, LIBERTY [1929]).
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Wish I'd been around to see it in '21...
JoeytheBrit23 July 2009
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.
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Harold Attempts Suicide!!!....
kidboots30 June 2012
Warning: 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!!
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Will have you weak with laughter...and fright...
Neil Doyle28 January 2007
HAROLD LLOYD goes through a whole series of funny happenings that could only happen to an actor as talented as he was (and Buster Keaton and other silent greats). And yet they all come about because he mistakenly believes his girl is going to marry someone else.

Desolate, he decides to think of quick ways to commit suicide, inspired by a newspaper headline that tells of two youths who killed themselves when they lost their sweethearts. His plans backfire, of course, but before you know it a construction boom has lifted his office chair out the window with him sitting on it, thinking he's been shot by a stunt he rigged up to have a gun go off when someone opened the door.

What ensues is the cleverest bit of physical comedy you can imagine, with Lloyd getting himself into sky high trouble when he makes an attempt to walk the construction beams which seem to be in a conspiracy against him. It's the funniest half of the short comedy--and one can see why he was so revered as a silent comedian.

The ultra busy soundtrack has a musical score (I saw this on TCM), but like many scores accompanying silent films, it's almost too much of a good thing. After awhile I dodged for the mute button.

Amazing to see what clever stunts he was capable of, even in his comedy shorts.
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I quite like Harold Lloyd
Warning: Spoilers
He is probably number 4 right now in terms of popularity when it comes to actors from the silent film era. Chaplin, Laurel&Hardy, Keaton and then Lloyd. Still I believe that he is as good as an actor as these 4, maybe even superior when it comes to drama. And he may very well be my favorite from the bunch. I quite like his boyish charm and nerdy looks with his glasses. Also he is always well-dressed, which adds some nice little humour as he seems to be a bit of an authority looking at his clothes, but he really is just so chaotic. Also in this 1921 film, his possibly most know short movie. The original ran for 20 minutes, but a newer version runs for almost 30. I guess they reduced the frames per second. The main topic in films from back then is always love, apart from the slapstick comedy of course. The first half of the film is an elaboration on the situation. Lloyd attempts to make a girl fall in love with him and has a friend assist him. Unfortunately, Lloyd mistakes the girl's brother for her fiancé and decides to commit suicide. It certainly was a time of extremes, also how quickly the girl wants to get married in the end. Almost the entire second half of the film is Lloyd trying to commit suicide, but gloriously failing each time. The funniest scene of this silent black-and-white film is possibly when he hears the heavenly music and sees the statue and thinks he managed to kill himself and is now in the heavens. A pretty enjoyable short film I must say. I am not that big really on silent films in general, but this one worked nicely for me, probably mostly because of Lloyd. The cast and crew here have worked with Lloyd on several films and the sweetheart is played by Mildred Davis, Lloyd's girlfriend at that point and later his wife for almost 50 years. Cute couple. I recommend watching it.
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Bravery and commitment to the highest degree as Lloyd goes out with a bang for the silent short era of his career
Steve Pulaski20 July 2014
Harold Lloyd's Never Weaken finds itself notable for several reasons, more than just being Lloyd's final silent short before moving on to strictly feature-length productions. For one, the short was a pioneer of the silent genre known as "thrill-comedy," which blended the elements of slapstick and humor with aspects of a thriller, giving audiences moments to laugh and moments to gasp which, if done right, could give off complex feelings. Furthermore, a good chunk of this short features Lloyd atop a large construction sight, balancing on long, metal pillars, struggling to stay on, and hanging on for dear life in, which only proves more tantalizing when one realizes that Lloyd did all his own stunts for this short, refusing to wear a wire or a harness to further ensure safety and support.

The film stars Lloyd as an office-worker, who plans to wed the beautiful Mildred (Mildred Davis), whom has been his girlfriend for a long time now. However, after hearing a man say to her "of course I will marry you," without any context, the man becomes distraught, emotionally upset, and decides to commit suicide by blindfolding himself and rigging a gun to fire when he pulls a string that is tied to the trigger. After an odd and nearly unexplainable series of events, with the bullet hitting the light next to him, the man finds himself high above the city, atop a construction site, all of a sudden struggling to hold on for dear life.

Never Weaken illustrates the age-old idea of a misunderstanding, which has been put to great effect in comedy films and, as we see, even the early days of silent filmmaking. Being brewed from the classic misrepresentation makes for cute innovation, for the time, as we find ourselves one step ahead of the character with each turn, right from the core misunderstanding in the very beginning. Throw in Lloyd's incredible facial acting and unbelievably talented physical comedy, and this is a conglomeration of true talent and innovation you can't help but cheer on through and through.

Starring: Harold Lloyd and Mildred Davis. Directed by: Fred Newmeyer and Sam Taylor.
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Harold wants to kill himself
Petri Pelkonen2 April 2008
Harold is in love with the girl portrayed by Mildred Davis.They work next to each other in a tall building.Then a big misunderstanding happens when he overhears her saying yes to a marriage proposal.Or at least that's what he thinks he hears.So Harold decides to take his own life.But his suicide attempts tend to fail.Harold Lloyd is great as always in this Fred C. Newmeyer's short silent comedy.Never Weaken (1921) is tragicomedy at its most tragic.And yes, it's also pretty darn funny.It's hilarious to watch Harold trying to get patients on the street.It will make you gasp when Harold is high above the ground.More than once in his movies Lloyd was seen in a tall building.Maybe it represented his smallness in this big world.Or something like that.
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Michael_Elliott28 February 2008
Never Weaken (1921)

*** (out of 4)

Another good Harold Lloyd short has him trying to injure people so that his girlfriend, who works in a hospital, won't lose her job due to lack of patients. There aren't too many laughs here but the thing remains entertaining throughout. The joke with the soapy street is clearly the highlight and the ending has Lloyd fumbling around on another skyscraper.

You can get this short from Kino or New Line. Both offer good video quality but the New Line set featurs a lot more shorts and features.
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Upstaged by "Feet First" and "Safety Last"!
JohnHowardReid5 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Directors: HAROLD LLOYD, FRED NEWMEYER. Screenplay: Sam Taylor, Harold Lloyd. Story: Sam Taylor, Hal Roach. Photography: Walter Lundin. Film editor: T.J. Crizer. Producer: Hal Roach.

Copyright 28 September 1921 by Associated Exhibitors (Hal Roach). U.S. release through Pathé: 22 October 1921. 3 reels. 29 minutes.

SYNOPSIS: Three stories, somewhat thinly joined: (1) Young man tries to drum up business for a doctor when his receptionist is in danger of losing her job. (2) Young man tries to commit suicide when he wrongly thinks his sweetheart has jilted him. (3) Young man find himself precariously balanced on a girder at a construction site. NOTES: Third of Lloyd's dizzy height themed movies: The others: Look Out Below (1919), High and Dizzy (1920), Safety Last (1923), Feet First (1930), The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (1947).

COMMENT: Suicide has been used as a laugh-getter in a few film comedies, but generally it doesn't work unless it's clearly established right from the start that the perpetrator is such an inept clown, his efforts will have absolutely no chance of success. Unfortunately, Mr Lloyd does not meet this requirement, so the laughs here are at best rather uneasy. Some of the sequences also run too long. Fortunately, there are plenty of genuine thrills in store in the girder episodes, even though these were later well and truly upstaged in Safety Last and Feet First. And we must commend producer Hal Roach for casting acrobat Mark Jones in a decent part for once. (Heavily disguised, Jones later played the old witch in Grandma's Boy).
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"Farewell, Harold."
classicsoncall21 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
There are some great stunts on display in this Harold Lloyd film short and not just those featuring Lloyd himself. The acrobat who feigns injury doing his back flips actually lands fairly hard on sidewalks and concrete in an unnatural position and I had to wonder how much of that he could take before hurting himself. Maybe he did, who knows?

I read a trivia note on this film that stated Lloyd had a stunt double for the more difficult ones, but there sure were enough close-ups of Lloyd on the airborne I-beam to make it seem like he was doing them himself. The blindfold gimmick in the chair was pretty remarkable, and even though the chair was secure, Harold wasn't, so it looked pretty dangerous. The balance, coordination and timing of all the stunts on display are really something to see.

Of course, what led to all those dangerous maneuvers was Harold's conviction to commit suicide after a misguided impression that his girl (Mildred Davis) was marrying another man. Talk about a perfectionist, he had to figure out the correct spelling of 'sepulchre' before pursuing his task. That would appear to take the starch out of any man.

I haven't seen nearly as many Harold Lloyd shorts as other favorites like Laurel and Hardy, Chaplin or Keaton, but the few I've seen are beginning to make me a fan. This one was pretty good, but if you're afraid of heights you may need a tranquilizer.
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