YES: it's here in gif form, at long last, after seven years of waiting: my favorite scene from my absolute-favorite Harold Lloyd movie, Why Worry?
It's romantic and sexy enough that this is set on a tropical island where a revolution ferments. But it also has a kind of subconscious romance going on, with (ultimately) explosive results. Harold plays a hopeless hypochondriac, a self-absorbed fussbudget oblivious to the longing glances of his gorgeous nurse, Jobyna Ralston. That is. . . until the very end, when something erupts.
In typical wacky Lloydian fashion, he asks her indignantly, "Why didn't you tell me I love you?" But by this time, Jobyna knows he's in the bag. All she has to do is stand there and wait.
And here it is, one of the hottest, most impetuous kisses I've seen in silent film - or talkie film - or ANY film, for that matter. He doesn't just grab, he SEIZES her while she reacts with a kind of violent spasm, resists him (very weakly), then melts into his arms, even doing a subtle leg-pop that might have been a first in motion pictures. Up to this point, movie kisses were coy, taking place behind screens or during the fadeout, or followed by big happy-happy grins of boyish glee. What makes it even more exciting is the fact that all through the movie there are not-so-subtle hints that Harold is attracted to her, but refuses to let himself know it. She plays him like a fish for an hour and two minutes, then lands him like a pro.
But it gets even better. The camera pans away for a few seconds, as if to let your eyeballs cool off a bit, then comes back to the lovers, who are STILL KISSING. As I researched Harold's life, I came across several references to his affair with Ralson. This was their first movie together, meaning that we have a sort of Bogart and Bacall thing going, with sparks flying that show up onscreen. Her utter confidence in her charms, her adorable boy's clothing, her swivelling hips - well. Harold never was much of one for marital fidelity .We all have our frailties, and in this case resistance was futile.
I had no idea up to now that my gif program could handle an hour-long movie (in fact, it probably couldn't, and must have been upgraded by the site at some point) or that I could set it up "blind" without using the slider, but voila et voici! Now I want to gif the entire movie, and I might just try it, doing it in 10-second installments. There are many great moments in this film, and I still maintain that with its upside-down dynamics and general wackiness, it's the first screwball comedy ever made, the prototype for everything that came after.
And just when I'm tired of Harold Lloyd, or at least tired of the heartbreak of a book that probably isn't going anywhere, something like this comes along.
SPECIAL BONUS PHOTO! Only a few still photos exist of this amazing scene, likely "captures" taken directly from the film. This one is new to me, with Jobyna's right arm registering surprise and her leg-pop at its maximum. The more I look at this, the more eyebrow-raising it is, because it really does look as if their lower bodies are touching. Was Hal Roach asleep that day? Why doesn't anyone say anything about this? I'm sure I don't know.
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