So the gorgeous California Theater in San Jose is doing a summer movie series, and tonight I was down there for Harold Lloyd's THE KID BROTHER. This was great, since I'll be at the Jewish film festival tomorrow night I won't get my normal weekly dose of silent film at Niles. Plus we had Dennis James rockin' the Mighty Wurlitzer (complete with the Harold Lloyd hat and glasses).
The program started with a Laurel and Hardy short, BIG BUSINESS. I had seen it previously at Niles, and it's still hilarious. Dennis had a slightly different version of the destroying-the-wrong-house behind the scenes story than the one I heard in Niles. I had heard the house they were supposed to destroy was occupied, but the owner was away for a while and was okay with them destroying it so long as they fixed everything up. Dennis had heard (from someone who worked on the crew) that it was a house that was scheduled for demolition anyway. Who cares, it's still hilarious. Oh, and I'll also add that I've seen enough silent film since I saw this last that I now recognize Jim Finlayson as the irate homeowner (last time I saw it, he was just "some guy" to me).
As for the feature, I'd also seen it before, last year at the Silent Film Festival. Also still hilarious, and seeing it again I could better appreciate the balance of comedy and pathos (as opposed to the pathos just being the setup for the comedy), and the well crafted characters throughout. This was Harold Lloyd's second to last silent film (he made a handful of talkies, at least one--MOVIE CRAZY--I've seen on the big screen), and his "glasses" character was very well established (and very popular) by then. Lloyd himself thought there wasn't enough action in the movie (I presume he means stunts like the famous dangling from the clock in SAFETY LAST), but it was well reviewed at the time and deservedly so still today.