Saturday 22 September 2007

The City Slicker (1918) Gilbert Pratt

'A roller-towel hotel in a saw-mill town', it says, and everyone looks suitably like backwoods hicks. It's the Punkville Hotel and the beards aren't the usual fake ones, they're more like auditions for ZZ Top. In comes a stranger who suggests that they all get slicked up by someone from the city, and so they put an ad in the paper and in comes the city slicker himself, Harold Lloyd, who is so cool that he lights his cigarettes with gunfire to calm down annoying guests. He takes over the running of the hotel and introduces all sorts of new gadgets.

As I'm already starting to expect for a Harold Lloyd movie, it's populated by a very familiar cast. Bebe Daniels is a tired society belle that Harold falls for and Harry 'Snub' Pollard is the porter and cook. There's some inventive design going on, but the obvious comparison is to Buster Keaton shorts like The Electric House and One Week, which while they benefit from a further couple of years, are in a completely different class. They ought to have given Harold Lloyd something to work with but the film just ends as he gets started.

Apparently that's not just my recording, it's where the existing print ends, which is really unfortunate because what it leaves us with is just an introduction to a potential movie that we can't see. The whole film is only twelve minutes long so we don't miss much from the minute count but effectively we miss almost everything and that's a real shame.

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