Harold Lloyd, whose tortoise-shelled lensless spectacles were nearly as popular and well-known to film fans of a decade ago as Charlie Chaplin’s roomy shoes, has returned to the talkies after an absence of two years with his spectacles and his sense of the ridiculous intact. At the Radio City Music Hall he may be seen in “The Cat’s Paw,” a Fox release which was adapted from the story of the same name by Clarence Budington Kelland.
“The Cat’s Paw” was bought for the screen with the idea of giving Lloyd a vehicle the sight of which would send audiences into the proverbial gales of laughter. I must say that the producers have come very close to succeeding. It is amusing throughout and in some places downright hilarious. Unlike the previous Lloyd pictures, “The Cat’s Paw” has a sturdy plot, one with a real story that requires a cast of actors. It concerns the exploits of one Ezekiel Cobb (Lloyd), the son of missionaries, who has been brought up from childhood in complete ignorance of existence in the Western world.
Upon his return to the small town where he was born, he is taken in tow by a typical grafting, unscrupulous politician (George Barbier), who decides that Ezekiel would make a fine “dummy” mayor. With the aid of the political machine, Ezekiel is elected. The politician then finds that he has a mayor who refuses to take orders from his makers. The machine that made him then tries to undo him, which brings into the films the gangster phase of American life. How Ezekiel solves the crime problem after going to a wise Chineman for advice is one of the brightest film moments I’ve experienced in some time.
Other amusing situations arise when Ezekiel is confronted with modern slang, the radio and other alleged innovations of the present. His confusion and distaste are carried off with an air of bewilderment that will delight those who are fed up with the mechanization of our daily life.
As the mayor Lloyd carries off his role skillfully, believably and neatly. George Barbier as the crooked politician, Una Merkel as the girl who sympathizes with the plight of Ezekiel, and Alan Dine-hart as the ex-mayor, are likewise excellent.
“The Cat’s Paw” is high comedy of a superior brand.
The box office of the Winter Garden opens today and those among you who wish to witness “Life Begins At 8:40,” the new John Murray Anderson revue, will be permitted to try and buy a ticket. . . . The show opens next Monday evening. . . .
Next Monday night “No More Ladies,” which has been closed throughout the summer, will reopen for another engagement, this time as one of the attractions of the American Theatre Society. . . .
The News Reel Theatre this week has a varied fare. Hindenburg’s funeral, an impressive spectacle; Preacher Teester, the gent who allowed a snake to bite him and then claimed that divine faith healed the wound (the excitement that attended this stunt is amusing, considering that it is pulled out of the trick bag at least once every five years), and Sopwith’s yacht Endeavour, the British boat that came over here to win the Cup.