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Harold Lloyd

 

FEET FIRST

Paramount, 1930.  Directed by Clyde Bruckman.  Camera:  Walter Lundin, Henry Kohler.  With Harold Lloyd, Barbara Kent, Robert McWade, Lillianne Leighton, Henry Hall, Alec B. Francis, Noah Young, Arthur Housman, Willie Best, Noah Berry, James Finlayson, Buster Phelps.

Harold Horne is a shoe clerk, with dreams of glory.  He decides to enroll in a mail-order success course from the Personality-Plus Corporation, and earns his diploma from his home in Honolulu.  His first entry into high society is at a black tie gala, where he meets Barbara, who he had met previously.  She thinks he is a rich businessman, and he furthers the deception, saying he is in the leather busines.  Indeed, he thinks she is the daughter of wealthy Mr. Tanner, the owner of the shoe store Harold works in (actually, she is his secretary).

Later, Barbara and Mrs. Tanner, the owner's wife, enter ;the store, and Harold goes to extravagant means to avoid Barbara, while managing to injure and embarrass Mrs. Tanner (not knowing her connection to the store owner).  Harold is called upon to deliver some shoes to a depatint ocean liner, destination California.  The passengers include the Tanners, and Barbara, who thinks that Harold is a passenger too.  He soon is, in keeping up the pretense, but without money, clothes, or cabin.  He somehow manages to find a place to sleep (inside a box of life preservers, or a lifeboat—whatever is handy, finds food, and a formal suit (by managing to get a fellow passenger seasick, and swiping his suit).

Harold is horrified to see his picture in a magazine, in an ad for the Personality Plus program, and runs throughout the boat, attempting to steal all copies of the magazine.  Mr. Tanner, later, berates Barbara for her failure to mail an important letter.  Harold, eager to help, promises to get the letter to Los Angeles on time, before the boat docks.  He manages this by hiding in a mail sack, and is flown to shore.  The sack containing the letter (and Harold) is accidentally dumped onto a painter's scaffold, which is being hoisted up from the street.

As he is rising, he attempts to cut himself free with a pocket knife.  Harold has a horrible time getting free, battling guardrails, cigar butts, an awning, a bucket, a fire hose, and the scaffold itself, which is being handled by two painters, who are in a heated debate over which is the better fighter, Dempsey or Sullivan.  Harold, in mid-air, yells for the help of Charcoal, the janitor; Charcoal succeeds in making Harold 's predicament even more perilous.  Harold manages to get to the roof, but climbs upon a cloth that is soaked in ether (paint remover):  he falls off the roof, while tangled to a rope and, eyes shut from fright, finds himself hanging from a window rail.  He feels as if he is still stories in the air, but the is actually only inches from the ground.  Passersby have a good laugh, and Harold kisses terra firma.  He recovers, delivers the important letter on time, and is made Western District Manager of the shoe company by Mr. Tanner.  Harold got his glory, and the girl.

The Harold Lloyd Encyclopedia,
by Annette D'Agostino Lloyd
McFarland & Company, Inc.,
Jefferson, NC and London, 2004

 
         
       
 

Additional photos courtesy of Gary