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Nobody's Business (1926)

Passed | | Comedy, Short | 4 April 1926 (USA)
Lloyd, manager of a lunch wagon at the beach, must contend with his morning commute, difficult customers, and other problems on a day when absolutely everything goes wrong.





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Cast overview:
Lunch Wagon Manager
Old Man (as James Kelly)
Helen McNair ...
Woman with Baby
Eddie Boland


Lloyd is a lunch-room proprietor and his adventures on the way to and at work find him in escapades involving a roller coaster, a street car and out-to-sea on a submarine. Things aren't going all that well in the hot-dog business, either. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

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Comedy | Short






Release Date:

4 April 1926 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

A rare treat from an under-appreciated silent clown
11 October 2004 | by See all my reviews

When movie buffs talk about the missing films they'd like to see recovered the discussion typically focuses on such hotly sought-after quarry as the Theda Bara version of Cleopatra, or the complete director's cut of Greed. And while it would be great to find those famous treasures, there's another category of lost cinema that deserves a word or two: those obscure movies which, once found, bring a previously little-known or undervalued talent to light. A good example of this is the recent reappraisal of Charley Bowers, a comedian whose work was not highly appreciated even when he was in his prime. When a number of Bowers' films were found in France in the late 1970s the man was belatedly recognized as an unsung comic talent.

The case of Lloyd "Ham" Hamilton is rather different. Unlike Bowers, Hamilton was fairly popular during his lifetime, appreciated as a reliable second-tier comic on par with Charley Chase or Lupino Lane. But posterity wasn't kind to Hamilton or his colleagues at Earle Hammons' Educational Pictures, for a massive vault fire in the late 1930s destroyed most of the studio's silent era output. Like Theda Bara, the bulk of Lloyd Hamilton's work vanished in a matter of moments, and today the man is unknown to the general public. Still, allowing for the recovery and public accessibility of more of his work, I believe he's ripe for rediscovery. The few surviving short comedies from Hamilton's best period, the early to mid-1920s, are fresh and amusing and packed with gags. Hamilton himself comes off as an interesting, off beat personality, a rather prissy type with pursed lips, a flat cap, and a distinct waddle in his walk, something like the character actor Victor Moore with occasional moments of Harry Langdon-like helplessness.

Nobody's Business is the best of the Hamilton comedies I've been able to see. The film kicks off with his morning routine, when Ham's shabby wardrobe falls apart as he dresses, and live moths fly out of his suit. He leaves his apartment wearing an entire clothes rack, and wonders why passersby are laughing at him. Next comes an extended trip in a streetcar to the lunch wagon Ham manages at a nearby beach. Just getting onto the streetcar is an ordeal: crowds surge on, pushing him all the way through the car and back onto the street, where he is knocked flat and people actually walk on his face. Once on the streetcar Ham must endure more challenges, from an obnoxious child who sticks a lollipop in his eye to a bully who forces him out of his seat. When Ham tries to read a personal letter from his mother, a pair of pests read over his shoulder. Like Rodney Dangerfield, this guy doesn't get any respect.

Next, at Ham's lunch wagon, he seems to be efficient enough and runs the place pretty well, but when Prohibition agents come calling a drunk at the counter quickly stashes his booze in the coffee maker, and before long everyone in the place is plastered and singing "Sweet Adeline." Come to think of it, that's the best part of Ham's whole day, but it doesn't last long. The movie concludes with a genuinely surprising thrill sequence when the lunch wagon gets pushed onto a roller coaster at a (conveniently adjacent) amusement park, and we are treated to the rare sight of a roller coaster with a house-like structure careening around its tracks. This sequence combines decent model work with what appears to be the real thing, and it's nicely handled. The wrap-up gag owes more than a little to Buster Keaton's The Navigator, but after that wildly original climax Hamilton is entitled to a bit of borrowing.

As my description may suggest this movie is quite episodic, rambling from one sequence to the next without much in the way of plot or motivation, but hey, who needs that stuff? We're here for the laughs, and Lloyd Hamilton supplies them. We can only hope that more of his work turns up, and that the man receives some long overdue recognition. Theda Bara's Cleopatra might be funnier than this film, but I doubt it.

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