November 25, 2014
Movie Night: The Freshman.
Review #667: The Freshman.
Harold Lloyd (Harold Lamb), Jobyna Ralston (Peggy), Brooks Benedict (The College Cad), James Anderson (The College Hero), Hazel Keener (The College Belle), Joseph Harrington (The College Tailor), and Pat Harmon (The Football Coach) Directed by Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor.
When people think of Harold Lloyd, they think of him dangling from the clock tower in Safety Last, or his work in Grandma's Boy (which I'll review in the future), or his role in The Freshman, which is what I'm covering. Lloyd's career could've been stopped before he gained his fame; in 1919 he lost a finger and a thumb in an accident, with a prosthetic glove concealing the damage. But he did not let that stop him. The Freshman was Lloyd's highest grossing silent feature, and it's easy to see why. His character (Harold, also known in the movie as Speedy) is so likable. Lloyd's character isn't a random passerby who happens to pop in, he's a character whose purpose is given depth. You emphasize with him and his plight, which makes it easier to laugh at his naiveness. The gags are slight but easy to recognize, the movie has a lot of fun with the situation Harold sets himself in. My favorite gags involves Harold speaking to the crowd...while a kitten comes out of his sweater. The characters are easily describable given their character names, but at least they act their parts convincingly, especially Benedict, who is easy to dislike, and for good reason. The romance between the main leads is sweet and brief enough to work. The football action at the end is particularly noteworthy because we get to see how football was over 80 years ago. The action was filmed at the Rose Bowl (with crowd shots at Cal Memorial Stadium), and the football action is about as wild and silly (with Lloyd) as it can get. It certainly is a good way to end the film. The movie is like a gift basket, sweet and entertaining for a short period of time (about 70 minutes), and that's probably why this movie is still a great hit with others. I highly recommend this film (along with other silent movies with Keaton and Chaplin) for a good way to spend a day, especially on Thanksgiving.
Overall, I give it 10 out of 10 stars.