Review: High and Dizzy (1920)

>> Thursday, May 3, 2007

USA/B&W-26m./Silent/Dir: Hal Roach/Wr: Frank Terry/Cast: Harold Lloyd (The Boy), Roy Brooks (His Friend), Mildred Davis (The Girl), Wallace Howe (Her Father)

Copious quantities of home brew and precarious heights combine to make Harold Lloyd high and dizzy in this classic comedy short. Set at the beginning of prohibition (or as the title card refers to it, “That never to be forgotten period when cloves, corkscrews, and foot-rails went out of fashion,”) High and Dizzy is a great example of silent slapstick at its most soused.

Lloyd portrays a young doctor with a failing practice who falls in love with the first patient to frequent his office, a young woman suffering from sleepwalking disorder. Her father doesn’t appreciate the doc’s advances toward his daughter, so Lloyd quickly loses his patient. However, the physician doesn’t have long to dwell on his loss, because he’s pulled into a neighboring office by his friend, an enterprising alky who is anxious to show off his home brewing kit and hand-bottled beer. When the beer bottles begin to explode, the boys save the brew in the only way they know how--drinking the lot. High on giggle water, the pair cut a path of mayhem and destruction through town, eventually leading to Lloyd catching up with his somnambulistic sweetie and taking an unintended walk on the ledge of a high-rise hotel.

Today, if Harold Lloyd is remembered at all, it is for the image of the bespectacled comedian hanging from the face of a clock several stories above the ground. In truth, only a handful of Lloyd’s dozens of movies were acrophobic thrill comedies, but those particular films are remembered for good reason. The real human stunt work adds an extra dimension to Lloyd’s already clever humor (in the same way that one can’t help but be impressed with Buster Keaton’s superhuman acrobatic skills). Adding alcohol to the mix just adds a little extra kick to the brew.

Drinks Consumed
--Homebrewed beer

Intoxicating Effects--Sneaking sips, staggering, stumbling, public disturbance, brawling, destruction of property, double vision, and passing out

Potent Quotables--TITLE CARD: One hour and forty-four pints later. They saved the brew, but…

Video Availability--DVD, as part of The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection Vol. 2 (New Line)

Similarly Sauced Cinema--In his last feature film, The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (1947), Harold Lloyd plays a bookkeeper who takes his first drink and wakes up two days later to discover he’s bought a circus.

The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection Vols. 1-3 (DVD Set)
Harold Lloyd: Master Comedian (Hardcover)

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I like to drink. I like to watch movies. I like to watch movies about drinking. I like to write about the movies I’ve watched, but only if I’ve had a drink first.

All text including the title "Booze Movies: The 100 Proof Film Guide" Copyright William T. Garver

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