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Harold Lloyd

 
 
 
   
 
 

GIRL SHY

                     
 

Pathé, 1924.  Directed by Fred Newmeyer.  Camera:  Walter Lundin.  With Harold Lloyd, Jobyna Ralston, Carlton Griffin, Richard Daniels, Nola Luxford, Earl Mohan, Charles Stevenson, Gus Leonard, Sammy Brooks, Wallace Howe, Mickey Daniels, Joe Cobb, Jackie Condon, Priscilla King, Dorothy Dorr, Andy DeVilla.

Harold Meadows works for his uncle, Jeremiah, in his tailor shop.  Harold is girl shy, and keeps away from them.  He writes a book, called The Secret of Making Love, a collection of ways he has "won" different kinds of girls, such as vampires and flappers.  However, in actuality, he so scared by any female he sees, that he stutters uncontrollably.

Taking his manuscript to the big city, he meets Mary Buckingham on the train, and helps her out of some difficulties with her dog.  They fall in love with each other, and he promises that he will have something to ask her when his book is published.  However, the publisher ridicules his book; yet, the entire office force find such delight and humor in it that the publisher decides to accept the manuscript, renaming it The Boob's DiaryBelieving he has been turned down, Harold tells a heartbroken Mary that he was only kidding her to get new material—he felt it was better to send her out of his life than to keep her hanging on to false hopes.

Later, however, Harold receives a $3,000 advance check from the publisher and, after initially abhorring the rename of his book, he realizes that he could now ask Mary to marry him.  Just then, he learns that Mary is about to marry Ronald DeVore ("the kind of man that men forget"), a known bigamist.

Harold starts on a mad chase to get to her, in which he meets with all sorts of thrilling experiences, using every kind of vehicle, motorcycle, horse and wagon, and a stolen auto and hijacked trolley car.  Harold arrives at the wedding just in time to rescue Mary from a doomed marriage—he grabs her, carries her off to a secluded spot, informs her of the bigamy, and manages to propose—and a happy marriage to Harold is accepted.

Notes
The reviews for Girl Shy were exceptional.  Variety, in its April 2, 1924, issue, stated, "The last two reels move along so fast, with so many thrills, that the average audience is going to stand up and howl."  The critique in The Film Daily, from April 6, 1924, read like a love song:  "Lloyd's name and the title of his latest should be enough to pack your house.  If it isn't, it's probably because they don't know who Harold Lloyd is.  Should that be the case, get busy and acquaint them."

The working title of this picture was "The Girl Expert,"  Girl Shy was the #8 film of 1924, grossing $1,729,636.  It was the first production of Harold Lloyd Corporation, with offices at 1040 Las Palmas Avenue, in Hollywood.  The interiors were shot at Metropolitan Studios, on Las Palmas and Santa Monica Boulevard.

A third fantasy sequence had been filmed for The Secret of Making Love, about a rich sportscaster.  Initial previews of this sequence were less than favorable, so it was discarded.  Harold was greatly dependent upon the preview, which measured audience response to a film prior to its initial release.  To Lloyd, before anything else, audience satisfaction was paramount.

Richard Daniels, who played Harold's uncle Jeremiah Meadows, was the real-life father of Mickey Daniels, Our Gang's favorite freckled redhead, who appeared in this film, as well as in a bigger role in Doctor Jack.

The great chase sequence, arguably the heart of Girl Shy, was filmed first, before any other scenes in the film were shot.  One of the greatest factions of the case, in which the horse wagon "runs over" the audience, was later borrowed by a friend of Harold:  director Fred Niblo was in the process of shooting his epic Ben Hur (1925), when he saw Girl Shy.  So struck was he by this "under the street" camera technique, that he employed it for the great chariot race sequence.  Actually, to execute Girl Shy's brief yet magnificent shot, cameraman Walter Lundin mounted a camera within a manhole on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, providing the remarkable illusion (Lundin was a master of sight gag execution).  Harold, always one to recognize an opportunity, left the studio during the filming of The Freshman, on May 24, 1924, to watch the Ben Hur chariot race being shot.

The ending of Girl Shy, in which Harold arrives at the Buckingham estate just in time to stop the wedding of Mary to bigamist Ronald DeVore, inspired the similar ending of The Graduate (1967).  Director Mike Nichols, as well, invited Harold to watch the filming, which he gladly did.

Weekly salaries at this point:  Harold, $1,000; Sam Taylor and Fred Newmeyer, $300 each; Jobyna Ralston, $100.

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