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|Directed by|| Fred C. Newmeyer |
|Produced by||Harold Lloyd|
|Written by|| Thomas J. Gray (titles)|
Sam Taylor (story)
Tim Whelan (story)
Ted Wilde (story)
|Starring|| Harold Lloyd |
|Edited by||Allen McNeil|
|Distributed by||Pathé Exchange|
|March 28, 1924 (New York premiere)|
|Languages|| Silent film |
Girl Shy is a 1924 romantic comedy silent film starring Harold Lloyd and Jobyna Ralston. The movie was written by Sam Taylor, Tim Whelan and Ted Wilde and was directed by Fred C. Newmeyer and Taylor. In 2020, the film entered the public domain.
Harold Meadows (Lloyd) is a tailor's apprentice for his uncle in Little Bend, California. He is so shy around women that he can barely speak to them (to stop his stuttering, his uncle has to blow a whistle). Despite this, Harold writes a "how to" book for young men entitled The Secret of Making Love, detailing how to woo different types of young women, such as "the vampire" and "the flapper" (in scenes that parodied two other popular films of the time, Trifling Women and Flaming Youth [ citation needed ]), and takes a train to see a publisher in Los Angeles.
The same day, rich young Mary Buckingham (Ralston) boards the same train after her automobile breaks down in Little Bend. No dogs are allowed aboard, so she hides her Pomeranian under her shawl, but her pet jumps off as the train pulls away. Harold rescues her dog and helps Mary hide it from the conductor. She sees his manuscript, so he starts telling her about his book, overcoming his stuttering in his enthusiasm. They become so absorbed in each other that neither realizes that the train has reached its final destination and everyone else has departed. Upon returning home, Mary rejects the latest in a string of marriage proposals from persistent suitor Ronald DeVore, "the kind of a man that men forget". Mary's savvy mind has long ago realized that the arrogantly-selfish and much-older Ronald does not truly love her, but would merely want her as a trophy wife with a large inheritance.
After her car is repaired, Mary intentionally detours through Little Bend repeatedly, hoping to see Harold again. On one such trip, Ronald is also along for the ride, and his unwanted attentions cause Mary to swerve and get her car stuck near the outskirts of Little Bend. While Ronald walks back to town for a tow, Mary goes for a walk and happens to reunite with Harold. After telling Mary about the remainder of his book, Harold informs her that he is going to see the publisher, Roger Thornby, in a few days to deliver a new chapter that will be about her. They agree to meet again afterward. Meanwhile, back in Little Bend, Ronald runs into a middle-aged woman who asks if he is finally going to introduce her to his family, but he stalls her, then rides away in the tow-vehicle.
Mr. Thornby's professional readers find Harold's book hilariously absurd, so he rejects it. Without any royalty money, Harold figures he cannot ask the accustomed-to-a-posh-lifestyle Mary to marry him. So, feeling too ashamed to admit the truth to Mary, he pretends that he was only using her as part of his research --- "I tell that to all the girls I meet --- to get ideas." Heartbroken, Mary impulsively agrees to marry Ronald, even though she knows that he will never really show her the innocent warmth and sincere kindness that Harold always had. Afterward, though, one of Mr. Thornby's senior employees convinces him that, if the staff liked the book so much, there must be a market for it, so Thornby decides to publish it as "The Boob's Diary".
A few days later, a depressed Harold gets a letter from the publisher, but just rips it up without opening it, assuming that it is a rejection notice. Fortunately, his uncle notices that one of the paper-scraps is part of an advance royalty check for $3,000; the accompanying letter states that the book will be published as a comedy. At first, Harold is outraged, but then he realizes that his having this large cash-sum means that he can propose to Mary after all. However, when he sees a newspaper headline announcing Mary and Ronald's wedding that same day at her family's estate, he gives up. By chance, the same woman whom Ronald had met a few days earlier walks in and, seeing the newspaper story, tearfully exclaims that she is Ronald's wife. As proof, she shows Harold a locket with the couple's wedding portrait and the engraved words "to my wife" that Ronald had given her two years earlier. (It is never revealed why the wealthy Ronald had married a working-class woman, but it was likely simple greed --- perhaps this lady was the beneficiary of a sizeable life-insurance policy or upcoming inheritance, and so Ronald had secretly married the lady in hopes of accessing her future fortune. Ronald had not informed his family about his marriage to this currently-of-modest-income lady lest they would disapprove; he may also have told his new wife not to let anyone know of their marriage, either, fearing that the lady's benefactor would exclude her from his will if he learned that she now had a rich husband who could provide for her. After meeting the super-affluent Buckingham family and being accepted by Mary's parents as a prospective son-in-law, however, Ronald had simply ceased contact with his wife, knowing that her inheritance would be a paltry sum compared to what Mary would receive.)
Harold embarks on a frenzied headlong dash, involving bootleggers, car chases and multiple changes of vehicle (from missing the train to various cars to a trolley to a police motorcycle to a horse-drawn wagon to horseback), through the countryside and along the crowded streets of Culver City and Los Angeles. Arriving at the Buckingham Estate with mere seconds to spare, Harold bursts in on the wedding ceremony where Ronald is just on the point of putting the wedding-ring on the tearfully-unhappy Mary's finger, but Harold cannot stop stuttering long enough to expose Ronald's intended bigamy. So Harold simply carries Mary off. When they are alone, he tells her about Ronald's secret and shows her the locket. Immensely relieved that she does not have to marry the dislikable Ronald after all, and gratefully realizing that Harold has proven himself to indeed be the caring and chivalrous gentleman whom she had always thought he was, Mary gets Harold to propose to her (with an assist from a passing mail carrier's whistle, which Mary blows to stop Harold's stuttering), and she accepts.
This was Lloyd's first independent production after his split with Hal Roach. It is what Lloyd called a "character story" (as opposed to a "gag film"), and is notable for containing fewer of the stunts which characterize Lloyd's other films throughout most of its length, and instead focusing more on the relationship between Lloyd and Ralston. However, the lengthy finale of the film is one of the most exhilarating, non-stop action sequences of Lloyd's career.[ citation needed ]
It was also the second of six consecutive movies pairing Harold Lloyd and Jobyna Ralston, who left Hal Roach Studios as well to continue working with Lloyd. Unlike the normal style for filmed romances prior to Girl Shy, both Ralston and Lloyd were featured in comedic scenes.
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