Cast & Crew
Wealthy young hypochondriac Harold Van Pelham visits a South American "island of paradise" and encounters a revolution which he believes is staged for his entertainment. Van Pelham enlists the help of Colosso, a giant bodyguard, when he sees that the revolt is genuine; and together they defend themselves against the revolutionaries. After quelling the revolution and receiving the ministration of his charming nurse, Van Pelham discovers he has exchanged his imaginary illnesses for a real sweetheart.
Why Worry? also marked both the beginning and end of another partnership. Mildred Davis had been Lloyd's leading lady in 14 of his previous pictures. This marked his first film in years without her. But although Jobyna Ralston got the female role opposite the star, Davis got him in real life; they were married during production of Why Worry?.
After working for years with characters some considered imitative of Chaplin's Little Tramp, Lloyd finally struck gold in 1917 with his creation of the "glasses character" for which he is famous. Although the character changed from movie to movie, for many he was the quintessential All-American – brash, energetic, resourceful. It was a comic character most audiences related to because he was so recognizably like them, unlike the beloved but more unusual characters created by Chaplin and Keaton. And while some saw Lloyd's trademark role as merely reflections of the unrelenting American drive for success, this absurdist, almost surreal comedy gave him a chance to satirize that image as well.
Lloyd plays a spoiled hypochondriac millionaire who travels to the tropics seeking a cure for his latest imagined illness (a theme close to his earlier hit, Doctor Jack, 1922). He lands in a Latin American country torn by revolution, but ever the self- concerned Yankee, he doesn't realize the political situation, thinking the strife to be part of a colorful way of life and a tourist pageant put on for his pleasure. The plot gave Lloyd opportunities for some peerless gags, including the final battle where he, his nurse (Ralston), and Colosso, a gentle giant he's befriended, keep the revolutionary forces at bay by making them think there's a whole army on the other side of the wall they hide behind. The story also was Lloyd's way of poking fun at the enormous popularity of Dr. Emile Coue, the French psychotherapist who promoted the notion of mental attitude (the "why worry?" of the title) as the cure for all ills.
Moviegoers and Lloyd fans made the film one of the major box office hits of the year. Less amused were Mexican viewers, who were convinced the movie was lampooning their homeland. The outcry was significant enough to cause Lloyd to write a letter of apology to the Mexican consul and eliminate any suggestion or reference to the film being set in South America. Subsequent release prints listed the setting as "The Isle of Paradiso, A Mythical Island, Somewhere, In Some Body of Water."
The part of Colosso the giant was originally assigned to Ringling Brothers Circus performer George Auger, but the eight-foot-plus man died suddenly the day before he was to leave for California to begin filming. A desperate nationwide hunt for a replacement was begun. One false lead led the company to Cisco, Texas, but before they could send someone to investigate, they received a cable from a city official saying, "You have been misinformed. There are no giants here and has been none for four years that I know of." Finally, after someone at the studio read a newspaper article about the making of a huge pair of shoes for a man in Minnesota, they located Johan Aasen, an eight-feet-nine-inches-tall Norwegian with an ironically soft, high-pitched voice.
Director: Fred C. Newmeyer, Sam Taylor
Producer: Hal Roach
Screenplay: Sam Taylor
Cinematography: Walter Lundin
Editing: Thomas J. Crizer
Cast: Harold Lloyd (Harold Van Pelham), Jobyna Ralston (The Nurse), John Aasen (Colosso), Leo White (Herculeo), James Mason (Jim Blake).
by Rob Nixon
Ringling Brothers giant George Auger was contracted to play the role of Colosso, but he died shortly after filming began. A nationwide publicity campaign was instituted to find a replacement. Norwegian John Aasen, living in Minnesota, was discovered as a result of a newspaper article about his shoe size.
Harold Lloyd's first film with leading lady Jobyna Ralston. She was picked primarily because Lloyd wanted somebody who was exactly the opposite of his previous leading lady, Mildred Davis, who had by then retired from films to become Mrs. Harold Lloyd.