Cast & Crew
En route to the city to find a publisher for his book, a collection of romances in which he plays the amorous hero, The Poor Boy, a shy tailor's apprentice, meets The Rich Girl and helps conceal her toy dog from the train conductor. The publisher rejects his manuscript, and The Poor Boy, disappointed at his failure, gives up The Rich Girl. Following a change of mind, the publisher sends The Poor Boy an advance of $3,000, thereby provoking him to pursue his true love, who is about to marry a man who already has a wife. In a wild chase, The Poor Boy, using an automobile, motorcycles, horses, and a trolley car, arrives at the church in time to halt the wedding. Tonguetied, he picks up the girl and carries her out of the church.
Silent film was a great medium for experimentation in the comedy genre. Audiences delighted in scenes of pure physical humor - pratfalls, comic chases, sight gags, slapstick - and masters of the form like Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Roscoe Arbuckle, Harry Langdon and others knew what made people laugh the hardest. Among them, Lloyd was the top moneymaker and arguably the most imaginative; certainly he was the most technically proficient. A tireless worker, raised in the Midwest with a powerful work ethic, he, like his contemporaries, was a perfectionist. Even when a real bomb, appearing to be a papier-mache dummy exploded in Lloyd's right hand in 1919, the comedian refused to let it affect his career. Instead, producer Hal Roach enlisted the aid of former glove salesman turned budding movie mogul, Samuel Goldwyn, to hide Lloyd's deformity with a prosthesis and kept it a secret from the public. Moviegoers held spellbound by Lloyd's athletic, often balletic comedy routines didn't realize these were being performed by a man missing his thumb and forefinger.
Girl Shy was one of what Lloyd liked to call his "thrill pictures." After making hundreds of shorter gag movies involving his characters Willie Work and Lonesome Luke, which were more or less patterned after Chaplin's tramp figure, Lloyd decided to create a more fully developed character for himself, someone who would be the underdog capable of super heroics. Naturally, there was a greater personal risk involved since Lloyd insisted on performing all of his own stunts.
But first, Lloyd went to work on his character's physical appearance. After seeing a film about a fighting priest in glasses, according to James Agee's On Film, Lloyd thought about the spectacles day and night, until he developed his signature rounded glasses. As a result, horn-rims became a fad and an appreciative manufacturer sent Lloyd 25 free pairs. In addition to the eyewear, Lloyd's straw hat and his anxious, evangelizing stance set a historic precedence, establishing him as the screen's first nerd hero, a character Jerry Lewis and Woody Allen would appropriate later in their comedies. But Lloyd was one of the first to show that an ordinary man or even one who was an object of ridicule could be comically roused to perform extraordinary feats of physical daring and heroism.
Girl Shy is Lloyd's initial producing effort, and he wanted to bring a humanity to the gag-filled chaos that would ensue through the use of his lead character, a timid tailor's apprentice named Harold. Legendary for his shyness with women, Harold doesn't let that fact stop him from writing a book on the secrets of love, with fantasy sequences accompanying each of the book's ideas, including a vamp, a vampire and a "flapper." And, of course, what would Lloyd's most romantic film to date be like without the sweet presence of Jobyna Ralston as his true love, Mary Buckingham? Harold finds her enchanting enough to chase crazily across town in an ending which mirrors The Graduate (1967), not only its powerful save-the-damsel-from-the-wrong-marriage climax, but even in its look and setting. Harold swoops in on the ceremony from above, a large window as his backdrop, and saves his sweetheart from making a lifetime mistake. A rave review in Movie Weekly stated that, "Ralston is a better actress than such a beautiful girl has a right to be." And she and Lloyd share several tender scenes together, which are among some of the most romantic in Lloyd's career. In particular, there is a wonderful moment toward the end after Harold and Mary have been separated, possibly forever. Harold is on his boat when he sees her reflection in the water. At first he thinks the vision might be merely his imagination before realizing that she has literally drifted back into his life; it's a lovely image that will stay with you long after the film has ended.
As Leonard Maltin said in The Great Movie Comedians, "He (Lloyd) was the meek inheriting the earth, an ordinary boy-next-door who survived by his wits, won the girl, and exemplified the ideals that formed the backbone of this country." But following the release of Girl Shy, the film industry began to change along with the popular taste of moviegoers; the sweet innocence of Lloyd's work eventually became passe After making Professor Beware in 1938, the comedian/director officially retired. He later made a brief comeback in 1947 with the unsuccessful The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (also re-released as Mad Wednesdayin 1950); it would be his final film appearance. After being honored with the Academy's lifetime achievement award in 1953, Lloyd showed a renewed interest in his earlier work, compiling Harold Lloyd's World of Comedy and Harold Lloyd's Funny Side of Life in 1962. Maltin recalls the time in 1970, a year before Lloyd's death, when the comic screened the infrequently seen The Kid Brother (1927) to a young audience at UCLA. Initially, the students were not overly excited about seeing a silent film, but their demeanor had totally changed by the film's end when they gave Lloyd a standing ovation, proving once again that his inspired work was not only appreciated and timeless, but crucial to the growth of an industry he helped to create.
Producer: Harold Lloyd
Director: Fred C. Newmeyer, Sam Taylor
Screenplay: Sam Taylor, Tim Whelan, Ted Wilde, Tommy Gray
Cinematography: Henry N. Kohler, Walter Lundin
Principal Cast: Harold Lloyd (Harold Meadows), Jobyna Ralston (Mary Buckingham), Richard Daniels (Jerry Meadows), Carlton Griffin (Ronald De Vore), Mickey Daniels (newsboy), Charles A. Stevenson (Conductor).
by Joseph D'Onofrio
Many of the exterior shots were filmed on Harold Lloyd's massive estate, GreenAcres, in Beverly Hills.
Dorothy Dorr's scenes were deleted from the original release, but her credit remains.