Critical Moments

A precise barometer upon which may be measured the exact degree of satisfaction a comedian feels about his own work is his desire to play Hamlet, or to be more explicit, to play serious roles. Has there ever been a funny man on the stage or screen, an actor endowed with the ability to make people laugh who as soon as his success has been firmly established, doesn’t immediately moon about, and issue hints that he is about to forsake low comedy to soar to dramatic heights in a heart rendering role that will turn those tears of laughter usually associated with his name, into sobs of anguish? Perhaps you can name one or two who stuck to a buffoon role but most of them can’t get over the feeling that they are not great artists unless they go in for the heavier parts. The latest addition to the corps of conscience-stricken clowns is the movie actor Harold Lloyd, who is taking the first step. From Fox Films comes the following message concerning that spectacled fellow’s desire to get away from burlesque.

“Moviegoers can all recall the Harold Lloyd of the naive days of buffoonery and clowning. Soon they will see a Harold Lloyd as fresh and new as tomorrow’s paper.

“The first evidence of the new Harold Lloyd is to be found in the screen version of Clarence Budington Kelland’s novel The Cat’s Paw, which will be released soon.

“The new turn in the famous comedian’s career brought with it a totally changed philosophy on his part when Lloyd decided to produce a picture which would stand up on its own as a story without falling back on the type of buffoonery which had been his staple in film fare since the commencement of his career.

“For the first time since he started in pictures, Lloyd went out and purchased an original story which had been published before. A few years ago he had been beaten to the bid on a Clarence Budington Kelland story called “Footlights,” serialized in a popular magazine. Shortly after this deal had fallen through, Kelland told him of an idea for a novel he had decided on as the story of his next book. Lloyd liked it tremendously, and the arrangement was made even before the manuscript was begun.

“For the past fifteen years, with the exception of the two years between the new Lloyd film and the last one, called “Movie Crazy,” the comedian has been producing pictures substantially based upon burlesque material. He was determined to find a more enduring comic structure, one which would draw upon sources of personality rather than outer characteristics, for its reality.

“Sam Taylor has directed Harold Lloyd in the widely read comic saga of the young son of an American missionary in China, who is sent to his home land to find a wife. Una Merkel and George Barbier are prominently cast in the picture. Incidentally, it was Taylor who directed the comedian in his greatest films, including ‘Sailor Made Men,’ ‘Grandma’s Boy’ and ‘The Freshman.’”

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