Today is the anniversary of the release date of the Harold Lloyd talking feature Feet First (1930), co-directed by Lloyd and Clyde Bruckman.
Feet First was Lloyd’s first proper talkie; the earlier Welcome Danger had been originally shot as a silent and then jerry-rigged to include dialogue. Lloyd plays a young shoe salesman whose love for a rich industrialist’s secretary inspires him to masquerade as a millionaire. (Coincidentally it turns out that same industrialist is the CEO of the shoe company Lloyd’s character works for.) At the climax Harold vows to get a crucial document off the ocean liner they’re on to a potential business partner on the mainland. He ends up taking an airplane ride inside a mailbag. Unfortunately, the bag gets tossed onto a scaffold that lifts him to the top of a tall building and a Safety Last type predicament. The sequence is funny, but somewhat marred by Harold’s screams and cries of help that make it a little too scary. But that didn’t stop Feet First from being the most popular of Lloyd’s talkies. I think the movie is good as any of his silent features.
To learn more about comedy film history, including Harold Lloyd and classics like “Feet First”, please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc
I am writing you because I am working on writing a play about vaudeville. I have read and am again rereading your fantastic book, No Applause, Just Throw Money (can’t figure out how to underline on this thing, but you get the idea) anyway, I am currently in Kodiak, Alaska, but will be in New York City the first week of December and wonder if you would do me the honor of having lunch with me to get tips on my play. I haven’t written the play yet, so it’s not like you’ll have to actually read anything, I just need a little insight into vaudeville and plays etc…. I guess this must seem pretty out there, hoping this reply does not get posted on the blog as that would be even weirder, but I don’t know how else to get in touch with you…hoping you get this and that you are up for it. I certainly could use your expertise with this, if it is to work at all… If nothing else, you’ll get a free lunch out of it…
P.S. Love the Harold Lloyd clip!