Friday, November 19, 2010

Don't Be Shy of Girl Shy

So, continuing with Silent Awareness Month, I thought it would be appropriate to showcase one of my favorite silent films... Girl Shy (1924).

This is one of the first Romantic Comedies ever made and was quite a departure for the star of the film, Harold Lloyd. Unlike his "gag" or stunt films, this is more of a character role. There is a stunt-y sequence at the end of the film where Lloyd is rushing to town to stop a marriage, but the majority of his time on screen is less physical. Lloyd plays a tailor's apprentice who has a hard time talking to women. He stutters whenever he tries to talk to a girl, and the words only come out after his uncle blows a whistle.

Harold uses his spare time to write his book on women. It is a novel teaching young men how to woo different types of women, (flapper, vamps etc). While writing, Harold acts out his methods in fantasy. These are a great parody of the characters of popular silent film. I particularly like the Flapper fantasy. She is smacking her gum and dancing all around the room acting quite the child. Harold uses his "cave man" technique to win her over. He takes a train to the big city so that he can deliver his book to the publisher.

On the train, he meets the delightful Jobyna Ralston. Dogs aren't allowed on the train, but Harold helps Jobyna hide her cute little pooch from the train operators. After a whistle from the train, Harold begins telling Jobyna about his book. You can tell that she doesn't believe him, but she is charmed by him as well. Its easy to see why these two stars made more than one film together, they had great chemistry.

After the two part ways and Harold has dropped off his book, the movie picks up with the introduction of the villain. A very ugly guy trying to win Jobyna for a wife. They are driving when marriage proposal goes awry and their car breaks down. Carlton Griffin (the villain) walks to town to get help while Jobyna explores a lake... Guess who else is at the lake? Harold and Jobyna have a sweet time of getting to know each other until Griffin comes and breaks it up. Harold actually punches Griffin in the face showing that a boy who stutters can still throw a mean left hook!

Haorld then goes to town to introduce a new chapter for his book to the publisher only to find the publishers office laughing and making fun of his work. The look on his face while everyone laughs at him is heartbreaking and Harold's infectious optimistic spirit is broken. He won't be making the money to ask Jobyna to marry him. He instead tells her that it had all been an experiment, that he never felt anything for her. She in turn gets engaged to Griffin.

On the day of the marriage, Lloyd gets a note in the mail saying that the publisher has decided to publish the book after all as a gag story renaming it "The Boob's Diary". Harold is embarassed, but doesn't care once he realizes that the money they sent would be enough for him to propose. A girl walks into the tailor's shop and sees the engagement announcement of Griffin and Jobyna in the paper. She cries out that her and Griffin are already married and shows a locket with their marriage date to prove it. Lloyd is off like a bolt to stop the pending nuptials.

The ending sequence is fantastic. Lloyd uses nearly every mode of transportation available to get to Jobyna, cars, mono-rails even a horse and buggy. Its fantastic. My favorite is when he steals the car of a bootlegger... oh prohibition, you made for such great comedy! He gets to the wedding just in time, but his stutter prohibits him from making any declarations. Instead, he throws Jobyna over his shoulder and runs out of the mansion (Harold Lloyd's actual estate was used for the exterior shots for this sequence!) Jobyna is trying to get Harold to propose to her, but his stutter is preventing it. She takes matters into her own hand and grabs the whistle of a mail man. The two end in an embrace just like any good rom-com should!

I like this movie for two reasons: 1. Harold Lloyd's everyman character is exceedingly charming 2. and the story is too convoluded with heavy melodrama, instead its light and sweet.

Don't be shy! Give Girl Shy a try!

1 comment:

  1. Probably my favorite Lloyd film (which says a lot, because he made many wonderful movies!)...and those intrigued by Los Angeles history will enjoy the chase sequence, as Harold really gives you a feel for the city circa 1924. (And I admit to being a sucker for the vintage Red Line streetcars.)