Harold Lloyd’s “Grandma’s Boy” is an enjoyable comedy with many slapstick gags and an attention to character development. And one of the many films included in the wonderful “Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection” DVD Box Set. Highly recommended!
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DVD TITLE: Grandma’s Boy (from the Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection DVD Box Set)
THEATRICAL RELEASE DATE: 1922
DURATION: 56 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: Full Screen, Dolby Digital, B&W, Subtitles: Spanish
COMPANY: New Line Home Entertainment
RATED: NOT RATED
RELEASE DATE: November 15, 2005
Directed by Fred C. Newmeyer
Story by Hal Roach, Sam Taylor, Jean C. Havez
Titles by H.M. Walker
Executive Producer: Suzanne Lloyd Hayes
Producer: Hal Roach, Jeffrey Vance
Cinematography by Walter Lundin
Music: Robert Israel
Cinematography: Walter Lundin
Edited by Thomas J. Crizer
Harold Lloyd as The Boy
Mildred Davis as The Girl
Anna Townsend as His Grandma
Charles Stevenson as His Rival/Union General
Dick Sutherland as The Rolling Stone
Noah Young as Sheriff of Dabney County
Having appeared in more than 200 films and widely considered to be one of cinema’s most respected comic geniuses, Harold Lloyd was one of Hollywood’s first true movie stars. Now, entertainment enthusiasts of all ages can enjoy the work of the man who inspired generations of acting greats with The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection.
Harold Lloyd, one of the three kings of silent film comedy.
Known for his physical comedy and the man with the eyeglasses, Lloyd’s comedies were enjoyable and similar to Keaton, Lloyd had the flair of doing his own stuntwork and when one is to watch his films today, there were a few films that literally makes people gasp and made you wonder, “how did he do that?”.
But then there were films which relied on comedy but also chemistry. The 1922 film “Grandma’s Boy” was one of those films that showcased the wonderful chemistry between Harold Lloyd and the leading lady who would later become his wife, Mildred Davis.
“Grandma’s Boy” was hailed as Lloyd’s first five part feature and for many Lloyd fans today, many see this classic film as a wonderful demonstration of a film featuring slapstick gags and character development.
The film revolves around Harold Lloyd as Grandma’s Boy, a boy who never stood up to his bullies and for the most part, was seen as meek and cowardly.
But despite many people thinking of him that certain way, one girl (played by Mildred Davis) didn’t. And because of that, grandma’s boy has always cared for the girl and wants to woo her.
Unfortunately, his rival (played by Charles Stevenson) is one that has always bullied him and also has sights towards the girl.
One day as grandma’s boy has tried to woo the girl, the rival pushes him over a well and thus shrinking his clothes.
Not wanting the girl to see him in wet, shrunken clothes, grandma’s boy heads home dejected. His caring grandmother has always wanted her grandson to be brave but not sure how she can get him to stand up for himself. When he arrives back home, she notices a tramp (a term to describe a homeless man) reading a newspaper at their home. She asks her grandson to get him to leave their property.
But because grandma’s boy is afraid, he tries to get the family dog to scare him away, but instead, it aggravates the tramp to the point that he wants to hurt grandma’s boy. Fortunately, grandma is around with her umbrella to help her grandson.
Meanwhile, the tramp heads into town and tries to steal jewelry by breaking the glass window. As men try to stop him, he pulls out a gun and shoots one of the men.
Immediately, the tramp becomes a wanted man and the sheriff requests that all men also become a sheriff to capture the tramp. Unfortunately, they are one short of a badge and so, grandma’s boy doesn’t get one. But seeing this as an opportunity for him to be closer to the girl, the rival gives his badge to grandma’s boy who now must help the other men capture the Tramp.
The grandma’s boy is so afraid to be part of the group that must hunt down the sheriff but he knows that the girl is proud of him for doing so. Afraid and cowardly, his grandmother doesn’t like seeing him this way. So she tells him a story about his grandfather who was also a coward and had to fight in the Civil War, but because he had this good luck charm, he was able to take on the Union Army and complete his mission.
And now, grandma’s boy has been given his grandfather’s good luck charm. Believing in the charm, now grandma’s boy feels confident that he will have what it takes to catch the tramp but also, win the girl’s affection. Can he do it?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
Where many film stars lost control over their films or their films were destroyed by fires (the nitrate of the film in which silent movies were shot with would catch on fire – such as FOX losing nearly 90% of all silent films due to massive fire) or have some severe acid decay, Lloyd was pretty smart in that he had control over his films and instead of having others watch over his films, he had his films stored via lock and key, fireproofed but most importantly during the ’60s, transferring the film to a better film stock.
So, the 1922 film “Grandma’s Boy” looks very good. Granted, you can see slight scratches but there are no signs of film warping, nitrate degradation or any major problems. Overall, “Grandma’s Boy” looks very good for a film that is 90-years-old.
As for audio, there is a wonderful score by Robert Israel (presented in Dolby Digital) which fits absolutely remarkably with what is seen onscreen. I haven’t heard Don Hulette’s 1974 score, so I can’t compare the two scores, but I will say that Robert Israel’s 2002 score which was used for this DVD is fantastic.
The film has English intertitles.
There are production notes on DVD disc 2 and DVD-rom features (all I found was a DVD player to watch films on PC or Mac).
Harold Lloyd is one of silent film’s greatest stars and one of the three kings that many people have probably not heard about.
Many have heard of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton but many ask, “who is Harry Lloyd?”. Part of the reason why people have not heard much of Lloyd is because he had major control over his films. Where as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton had an awesome career during the silent era, their films were distributed on video courtesy of the studio and they didn’t have total control of their work. Lloyd was very smart in the fact that he took control of his work, preserved it and also didn’t sell it cheap to just anyone, and thus many companies couldn’t afford his asking price. But Lloyd wanted to make sure that his films received it’s worth.
Granted, at the same time, because his films were not as distributed over decades like Chaplin or Keaton films, not many people have seen them.
Even in 2012, there have not been periodic releases of Lloyd films such as Chaplin or Keaton films that have made it onto Blu-ray. Many Harold Lloyd fans wonder if there will be any future releases especially a heavily anticipated part two of the Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection DVD set.
So, there are over 300 films of Harold Lloyd that many have not seen. The good news is that his 1922 silent comedy “Grandma’s Boy” featuring Lloyd and his future wife, Mildred Davis is included with this box set.
“Grandma’s Boy” is a film that showcases Lloyd’s amazing use of comedy, may it be facial expressions, gags and also a sight of a grown man with shrunken pants and suit is just hilarious to watch. The gags still hold up quite well today and for the most part, it’s a charming comedy tale that is straightforward, easily accessible and just fun to watch!
While Lloyd is wonderful in the film, the cast also does a wonderful job. Mildred Davis looks absolutely ravishing and does a wonderful job playing the girl interested in Grandma’s Boy, Charles Stevenson is wonderful in playing the brutish rival and Dick Sutherland, with his acromegalic features, looked threatening as the tramp/rolling stone. And Anna Townsend as grandma, she is always great playing the caring mother or grandmother in Harold Lloyd’s films.
And in terms of picture quality, for this DVD, “Grandma’s Boy” is presented on a double-sided DVD disc and is shared with two other films on one side of a DVD. Picture quality is very good considering that “Grandma’s Boy” is 90-years-old. Can it be better? Sure, if Harold Lloyd’s work ever receives the HD treatment and is released on Blu-ray. But considering how difficult it is for his work to be even released on DVD, one can only hope that Lloyd joins Chaplin and Keaton is receiving a Blu-ray release, seeing how their silent films have looked fantastic in HD.
Overall, “Grandma’s Boy” is a fun and enjoyable comedy but the good news is that it is one of the many wonderful Harold Lloyd films included in the “Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection” DVD Box Set!
If you want to experience Harold Lloyd’s films, this DVD box set is highly recommended!
(Note: Review is for film not the complete DVD box set)
A wonderful romantic comedy and a fitting final silent film by “America’s Sweetheart” Mary Pickford! Definitely recommended!
Images courtesy of © 1999 Mary Pickford Foundation. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: My Best Girl – The Milestone Collection
DURATION: 79 minutes
DVD INFORMATION: B&W & Color Tint, NTSC, Dolby Digital Stereo
RATED: Not Rated
COMPANY: Milestone Film & Video/Image Entertainment
Released Dated: October 26, 1999
Directed by Sam Taylor
Story by Kathleen Norris
Screenplay by Allen McNeil and Tim Whelan
Adaptation by Hope Loring
Producer: Mary Pickford
Cinematography by David Kesson, Charles Rosher
Art Direction by John DuCasse Schulze
Mary Pickford as Maggie Johnson
Charles “Buddy” Rogers as Joseph “Joe” Grant
Sunshine Hart as Ma Johnson
Lucien Littlefield as Pa Johnson
Carmelita Geraghty as Elizabeth “Liz” Johnson
Hobart Bosworth as Robert E. Merrill
Evelyn Hall as Esther Merrill
Avonne Taylor as Millicent Rogers
Mack Swain as the Judge
John Junior as Nick Powell
Maggie (Mary Pickford), a shop girl in a five-and-dime store, falls in love with the owner’s son Joe (Charles “Buddy” Rogers), who is working incognito as a clerk to prove himself to his father. A timeless Cinderella tale set in the roaring twenties, MY BEST GIRL is one of Hollywood’s greatest romantic comedies. Also included is newsreel footage of the marriage of Buddy Rogers and Mary Pickford, as well as home movies of their life together.
Mary Pickford, who will always be forever known as “America’s Sweetheart” and a pioneer of early Hollywood and shaping the industry but also for being the first talent who had so much power in Hollywood and joined Douglas Fairbanks (who would end up being her husband), Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith to create the film studio United Artists. As well as being one of the original founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and building her legacy as one of the greatest female actresses of all time.
Known for her work in silent films such as “Stella Maris”, “Amarlilly of Clothes-Line Alley”, “The Poor Little Rich Girl”, “Tess of the Storm Country”, “Pollyanna” to name a few, towards the end of her silent film career, Pickford would star in her final silent film “My Best Girl”, a romantic comedy that did fairly well in 1927 earning over a million dollars during its first run and a film most notable as it paired Mary Pickford and Charles “Buddy” Rogers (Pickford would marry Rogers in 1937, a year after her divorce to Fairbanks).
“My Best Girl” is about a woman named Maggie Johnson, an overworked employee at the Merril Department Store who works as a stock girl and hopes to one day become a sales girl. As her friend at the sales counter goes on a break, she asks Maggie to watch her counter for a short time. Maggie looks at this opportunity to show her boss that she can work in sales and the first person she tries to impress on the job is Joe Grant, unbeknown to Maggie is that Joe is not a shopper but is actually the new employee who is going to work at the department store in the stocking department alongside with her.
While trying to help train him in the stock room, Joe seems to not know how to open crates or do anything and thus dubs him “The Dumbest Stockboy in the World”. But as the two continue to work together, she finds herself attracted to him. But there is more to Joe Grant than Maggie knows. He is actually the son of Joseph Merril, the department store owner who is secretly working at the Department Store and is happily engaged to another rich woman named Millicent.
One day after work as the other sales clerks flirt with Joe, she rides on the back of a truck (as she heads back home). But Maggie looks at the opportunity for her to flirt with Joe by accidentally dropping things out of the truck and thus Joe having to pick it up and run after her. And she keeps repeating it until he eventually jumps on the back truck to ride with her towards her home.
Maggie takes Joe back home, wanting to cook him a meal but we learn that her family situation is not too quiet as her sister Liz is a rebellious Flapper (a term for a woman in the ’20s who were liberal and independent) dating a guy who gets into trouble and her mother is constantly weepy that her elderly postal worker father has to make her sniff ink or salts in order to calm her nerves. Maggie tries to pass off her family’s dramatics to Joe that her sister is in a theater and is acting out a part.
But if anything, Maggie makes up for it the day after when she cooks him a meal and feeds him in the stockroom of the store and eventually, the two share their first kiss and the two become even closer with each other.
Meanwhile, Joe’s mother is preparing an engagement dinner for he and Millicent and Joe knows he will need to tell Maggie the truth about his true identity and that he is engaged. But what happens when Maggie learns by circumstance of the truth about Joe?
“My Best Girl” is presented in 1:33:1 in black and white and color tinting. The good news is that “My Best Girl” is fortunately one of the films maintained by the Pickford Corporation that is in good condition. The whole film is intact with maybe a few missing frames and there is a few frames that have print damage but for the most part, the film is in good condition and there is not excessive dust, scratches that prevent the enjoyability of the film. There really isn’t any bad news but the very few areas of the film that do have print damage but not the kind that takes over the whole screen, it’s usually at the side of the negative and it’s not long at all.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital stereo featuring a wonderful symphonic score by David Michael Frank. The music fits the film perfectly and definitely one of the better silent film scores for a Pickford film out there.
“My Best Girl – The Milestone” comes with the following special feature:
- Home Movies and Newsreel Clips – (3:44) Featuring home movies of Mary Pickford’s marriage and honeymoon with Buddy Rogers.
When I started my research and viewing on Mary Pickford films, the hardcore silent film fans recommended “My Best Girl” as a film I should start out with. And I admit that I was a bit bewildered by the recommendation because it was Mary Pickford’s final silent film and most of the films that she was known for, were for the roles playing a younger character or a dual role. But after watching this film, I can tell you that I absolutely enjoyed this film.
First off, this is a romantic comedy that can be easily be seen as a rags-to-riches story as Mary Pickford plays a role of a young, over-worked woman who works in the stockroom and she falls for a man which she does not know is the son of the owner of the department store, let alone a wealthy young man who is engaged to a wealthy woman. The story establishes how the character of Maggie is very close to her family but without focusing on the financial side of the family, the film focuses on how two people who can be seen as opposites falling for each other.
Mary Pickford is no doubt a master when it comes to her presence and what she wants to be seen onscreen, she does a magnificent job portraying a variety of emotions throughout the film, may it be happiness, sadness, flirtation, etc. And the onscreen chemistry with her and Buddy Rogers works quite well for this film. Granted, there is a 12-year age difference between both talent but Pickford throughout her silent film career has had a nack of playing characters that were younger and in this case, despite being 35-years-old as opposed to Rogers who was only 23-years-old at the time, their chemistry is believable.
But one of the most memorable scenes from the film includes shots of Buddy Rogers running after Mary Pickford in a busy street with the old Los Angeles buildings and advertisements as the scenery. What a nostalgic scene, let alone a hilarious scene from the film.
Overall, I can see now why many silent film fans, especially Mary Pickford fans have recommended this film to me. Featuring solid performance by the talent of the film, especially the overly weepy mother Ma Johnson (played by Sunshine Hart) and the tired/panicky father Pa Johnson (played by Lucien Littlefield). Carmerlita Geraghty as the troublesome young flapper sister also did a good job although I wonder if flappers at the time felt the character was too judgmental in terms of the negative portrayal of flappers. And as a side note, Golden Era cinema fans can see actress Carole Lombard in a very small role as a flirty blonde trying to hit on Joe before the popular truck scene.
“My Best Girl” is a wonderful silent romantic comedy that has plenty of gags and dramatics to make this film, a fitting final silent film for “America’s Sweetheart” Mary Pickford. Definitely recommended!