Never Weaken came a year after the brilliant Haunted Spooks and touches on some of the same ideas but plays in a very different ways, including featuring an extended sequence of the stunning stunt-work best associated with Lloyd. Where Keaton had his dour expression and acrobatics and Chaplin had the pathos and funny walk of the tramp Lloyd is best remembered for his effervescence and his stunts. The stunts are never better represented than here which sees a protracted, thrilling and funny scene when Harold finds himself stranded on the beams of a building under construction. One gag in this sequence involving a ladder is as good as they come but the whole sequence is a delight. It might surprise people that a key theme here involves attempted suicide, something Keaton often tackled, but is less associated with the happy-go-lucky Lloyd, but it was something he visited on multiple occasions. Perfectly demonstrating what a fine line exists between comedy and tragedy this scene here explores the banalities that intrude and the difficulties of going through with such an act that when dwelt on are extremely astute but while watched are hilarious. The suicidal scenes of Haunted Spooks have bigger, and funnier gags and this is one extended scene here instead of a series of vignettes but still inspired as Harold figures out how to do it, dismissing various ways for funny, but oddly real reasons. The sequence is at it's best though when he delays the act because he gets caught up in the triviality of a miss-spelling in his suicide note! Lloyd regular (and later his wife) Mildred Davis again appears as the love interest, though has little to do here compared to some. The film is intriguingly split into three distinct segments, the slapstick laughs of the first section where Harold is trying to get patients for the doctor Mildred works for so she won't be fired; the smart wit of the suicidal second section; and then the thrilling stunts of the final section. Whichever part of Lloyd's art you like best Never Weaken can offer it to you, however as a whole it does feel a little like 3 10 minute shorts playing one after the other. Typically the title cards remain the most inspired and beautiful of any US silent comedian. Well worth catching. If you don't know Lloyd you couldn't get a better introduction to his talents.
Comedy / Short / Thriller
Comedy / Short / Thriller
Our hero (Lloyd) is infatuated with a girl in the next office. In order to drum up business for her boss, an osteopath, he gets an actor friend to pretend injuries that the doctor "cures", ...
November 27, 2020