Tonight at the Egyptian the TCMCFF again welcomes bespectacled silent comedian Harold Lloyd, this time with a screening of WHY WORRY? (1923) featuring the live musical accompaniment of Carl Davis conducting the World Premiere of his new score for the film, his fourth score for a Lloyd comedy. Harold has been a welcome presence at previous TCM Classic Film Festivals, represented by such classics as Safety Last (1923) at the first TCMCFF in 2010 and Girl Shy (1924) in 2012.
It’s a truism that pre-sound films are best appreciated on the big screen with live musical accompaniment, and that silent comedies go over particularly well with a large audience, but it is probably also worth arguing that the films of Harold Lloyd benefit more from large screenings and audience participation than do the films of his contemporaries, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. His “glasses” persona was more populist, outward-looking and “Jazz Age” than the Little Tramp or the Great Stoneface, seeking approval from his peers; a large audience finds it rewarding to cheer the fellow on in his go-getting endeavors to impress the girl, outwit the rival, or win the day.
WHY WORRY? is more surreal than the typical Lloyd outing—it finds Harold the wealthy hypochondriac heading for the tropics to seek a cure for an imaginary illness. The South American country he finds himself in is torn apart by revolution, but Harold thinks it is all a show for tourists. (Lloyd originally intended to set WHY WORRY? in Mexico; he had to fictionalize the locale after objections to the scenario from the Mexican Tourist Board). Things get mighty strange when Harold befriends the giant Colosso and fools an entire army division into thinking that he and Colosso are an even larger military force.
WHY WORRY? was the last Lloyd film produced by Hal Roach. The two had an amiable separation; Roach let Lloyd’s entire staff out of their contract so that Lloyd could produce films on his own. It was also the first film Lloyd had made in many years without leading lady Mildred Davis. Davis went from being Harold’s leading lady to being his wife; in fact they were married during the production of WHY WORRY?
Suzanne Lloyd, Harold and Mildred’s granddaughter (and the President of Harold Lloyd Entertainment) will also be present to introduce the screening and fill in more information about her grandparents and WHY WORRY? In particular. Judging from past Lloyd screenings at the TCMCFF, there will no doubt be howls–yes, HOWLS–of laughter and numerous outbursts of spontaneous applause during the spirited hour-and-three-minute show!