|Harold Lloyd silent film comedies third biggest star (Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton)|
The Kid Brother (1927)
d. Lewis Milestone
OH man Criterion Collection is wrecking my world by uploading these non-Criterion Collection titles which are none the less worth watching. In The Kid Brother Lloyd plays the effete younger sibling of a house hold of macho men. The wife is either dead or gone, so Lloyd is forced to handle the housekeeping and chores that would normally constitute "women's work" in the small town, westerny setting of the movie.
Both Lloyd films I've watched on the Hulu Plus Criterion Collection channel have featured Lloyd playing "himself": a psychologically vulnerable male looking to compensate for his failings via elaborate physical stunts. The Kid Brother doesn't have anything approaching the building scaling finale of Safety Last! but there are enough action sequences to keep you interested.
In the first scene in the film, Lloyd is hand washing the laundry and drying it by attaching it to a kite, which is hovering in the distance. The kite breaks free, and Lloyd is forced to chase the clothing hither and yon, irritating his neighbor and getting into physical altercations as he tries to retrieve his clothes.
The more Lloyd I watch the more aware I become of how intensely, deceptively physical Lloyd is as a performer. In Safety Last! there is a scene where Lloyd climbs into coats that are hanging on a coat rack to avoid his land lady. In The Kid Brother, Lloyd performs a stunt where he hangs behind a moving horse to avoid being seen by someone standing on the other side of the horse.
His combination of physicality and effeteness is I think the secret to his appeal. He's not just a comedian, he's also an action hero.