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FEET FIRST (directors/writers: Clyde Bruckman/Harold Lloyd; screenwriters: Paul Gerard Smith/Lex Neal/Felix Adler/story by John Grey & Alfred Cohn; cinematographers: Henry Kohler/Walter Lundin; editor: Bernard Burton; music: Claude Lapham; cast: Willie Best (Janitor, Sleep ‘n’ Eat), Harold Lloyd (Harold Horne), Noah Young (Sailor), Barbara Kent (Mary), Robert McWade (John Quincy Tanner), Lillianne Leighton (Mrs. Tanner), Alec Francis (Old Timer, Mr. Garson); Runtime: 70; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Harold Lloyd; Paramount; 1930)
It has Harold Lloyd, in his second talkie, again dangling from a skyscraper like in Safety Last (1923) but this time it doesn’t quite work with sound.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Stale comedy. It has Harold Lloyd, in his second talkie, again dangling from a skyscraper like in Safety Last (1923) but this time it doesn’t quite work with sound. In this episodic comedy, Lloyd sounds strident, the rehashed gags don’t always work and the comedy is lame. Director Clyde Bruckman (“The General”/”Horse Shoes”/”Movie Crazy”), who would commit suicide later on when his career turned sour and he was broke, directs this unappealing Lloyd vehicle. It’s based on a story by John Grey & Alfred Cohn, and written by Bruckman, Lloyd, Adler,Paul Gerard Smith and Lex Neal.

In 1930, in Honolulu, an apprentice shoe store clerk, Harold Horne (Harold Lloyd), aspires to be a shoe salesman and signs up for a motivational correspondence course to rise in the John Tanner company. When waiting on Mrs. Tanner (Lillianne Leighton), the wife of the company boss, Harold is attracted to her companion named Mary (Barbara Kent), whom he assumes is her daughter, and while eying the pretty Mary screws up serving Mrs. Tanner leaving her mad at his impertinence. The store manager has Harold leave early to deliver shoes to a departing ocean liner and when meeting Mr Tanner (Robert McWade), his wife and Mary on the liner, Harold can’t leave before it departs for LA and becomes a stowaway. Harold learns that Mary is really the boss’s secretary when she’s abruptly fired by the irate boss for supposedly not getting an army contract in the mail on time. Harold then promises the boss to deliver it on time.

It’s a bore till Lloyd gets trapped in a mail bag and is flown with the ship’s mail to LA, where he gets trapped on the ledge of a skyscraper and then dangles from a painter’s scaffold. In a vile racial stereotyped scene, Willie Best plays the slow talking dumb building janitor helping him. In conclusion Harold mails the letter in time saving Mary’s job and gets himself a promotion to a management position.

This film turned out to be more disappointing than Lloyd’s first talkie Welcome Danger (1929).


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”