Feet First | Chicago Reader

Feet First

Harold Lloyd's aptly titled first full-fledged sound film (his 1929 Welcome Danger had some sound sequences). It was also his first commercial failure, for reasons that are wholly mysterious: it's certainly the funniest early sound comedy I've seen, and it succeeds wonderfully well in reimagining Lloyd's silent persona in a talkie context, toughening him up with intelligence and poise. He's a shoe salesman who falls in love with an upper-class woman (Barbara Kent) on an ocean voyage. There's a brilliantly resolved running gag about a trick with two spoons and a glass of water, and a skyscraper climb at the end that rivals Safety Last. Lloyd worked only sporadically after the disappointment of this 1930 film, and while his later work has classic moments, he never regained the structural sureness that is so beautifully evident here.

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