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|Directed by||Fred C. Newmeyer
|Produced by||Harold Lloyd
Suzanne Lloyd Hayes (video release)
Jeffrey Vance (video release)
|Written by||Thomas J. Gray (titles)
Sam Taylor (story)
Tim Whelan (story)
Ted Wilde (story)
|Edited by||Allen McNeil|
|Distributed by||Pathé Exchange|
|Running time||82/80 min|
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (August 2014)|
Harold Meadows (Lloyd) works as a tailor's apprentice for his uncle in the fictional small town of Little Bend, California, and is so shy around women that he stutters and can barely speak to them (to stop his stuttering, his uncle has to blow a whistle). Though his shyness makes him completely clueless in the art of courting or impressing the ladies, Harold writes a preposterous "how to" book for young men entitled "The Secret of Making Love", detailing what he naively believes is good advice about 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), and takes it to a publisher in Los Angeles by train.
The same day, a rich young socialite named Mary Buckingham (Ralston) has her automobile break down in Little Bend and boards the same train. No dogs are allowed aboard, so she hides her Pekinese 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 proposals of marriage from her persistent but insincere suitor, Ronald DeVore, a rich man who is almost twice her age and who obviously views Mary as merely a trophy wife.
After her car is repaired, Mary intentionally detours through Little Bend repeatedly, hoping to meet Harold again. On one such trip, Ronald is also along for the ride, and his unwanted attentions during yet another unsuccessful marriage proposal cause the flustered Mary to accidentally swerve off the road and get her car stuck near the outskirts of Little Bend. While Ronald walks back to town for a tow, Mary serendipitously runs into Harold, who is relaxing in a rowboat in a nearby stream, and dreaming about her. When Harold tells Mary that he is going to see the publisher, Roger Thornby, in a few days to deliver a new chapter for his book that he plans to write about her, they agree to meet afterward. Meanwhile, back in town, Ronald unexpectedly runs into a middle-aged woman who asks if he is finally going to take her home with him and introduce her to his family, but he stalls her with vaguely-worded excuses, then rides away in the tow-vehicle.
Mr. Thornby's professional readers find Harold's book hilariously absurd, so he informs Harold that it has been rejected. Without any royalty money, Harold figures he cannot ask a rich girl like Mary to marry him. When he sees her, instead of telling her the truth, he pretends that he was only using her as part of his research, and that he really is not interested in her. Heartbroken and lonesome, Mary impulsively agrees to marry Ronald even though she has never really liked him. Afterward, though, one of Mr. Thornby's senior employees convinces the publisher that, if the staff liked the book so much, there must be a market for it, so Thornby decides to publish the book after retitling it "The Boob's Diary", a spoof on the popular romantic-advice books of the time.
Back in the tailor shop a few days later, a depressed Harold sees an envelope from the publisher that arrives in the morning mail, but he just rips it up without even opening it, assuming that it is a formal rejection notice. Fortunately, his uncle notices that one of the scraps is part of an advance royalty check for $3,000. At first, Harold is outraged and insulted to have his "pride and joy" ridiculed, but then he quickly swallows his indignation upon realizing that the royalty money means that he could probably propose to Mary after all. His elation is short-lived, however, when he sees a newspaper story announcing Mary and Ronald's wedding which is scheduled for that same day at her family's estate. Thinking all is lost, Harold gives up. However, by chance, the same woman whom Ronald had met in town a few days earlier walks in and, seeing the story, tearfully exclaims that she is Ronald's wife. As proof, she shows Harold a photo locket with the couple's wedding portrait and the engraved words "to my wife" that Ronald had given her two years earlier.
Harold takes the locket and races to stop the wedding, in a frenzied headlong-dash trip 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 carriage to horseback) through the countryside and along the crowded streets of Culver City and Los Angeles. Eventually arriving at Buckingham Estate with only moments to spare, Harold bursts in just as the minister is about to conclude the wedding ceremony, but he cannot stop stuttering long enough to expose Ronald's intended bigamy. So Harold whisks Mary up over his shoulder and carries her off. When they are alone, he tells her about Ronald and shows her the locket as proof. Mary, visibly relieved that she won't have to marry the snobbish Ronald after all, and immensely grateful for Harold's heroic dash to save her from scandal, quickly forgives Harold's previous deceptions now that she sees that he truly did care about her all along, and she gets Harold to propose to her (with an assist from a passing mail-carrier's whistle to stop his stuttering), and she accepts.
- Harold Lloyd as Harold Meadows, The Poor Boy
- Jobyna Ralston as Mary Buckingham, The Rich Girl
- Richard Daniels as Jerry Meadows, The Poor Man
- Carlton Griffin as Ronald DeVore, The Rich Man
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.
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.
The exterior shots of the "Buckingham" mansion and gardens were filmed at Lloyd's own estate in Beverly Hills.
- Quigley Publishing Company "The All Time Best Sellers", International Motion Picture Almanac 1937-38 (1938) p 942 accessed 19 April 2014
- "WHICH CINEMA FILMS HAVE EARNED THE MOST MONEY SINCE 1914?.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956) (Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia). 4 March 1944. p. 3 Supplement: The Argus Weekend magazine. Retrieved 6 August 2012.