Print

The residents of a small town organize a team to track down a killer on the loose. The town's entire male population joins the hunt, save one jittery youth (Harold Lloyd) who wants nothing to do with a murderer.grandmas boy poster He instead retreats to his grandma's house. She tells him a fantastic story that rouses his confidence, and hands him a talisman that supposedly holds the power of bravery. Unaware he's been given an ordinary piece of wood, the young man decides to chase the criminal by himself.

Director: Fred C. Newmeyer
Cast: Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis, Anna Townsend
Genre: Comedy
Silent
Runtime: 60min
Rating: G

Review

by Patrick Nash

Grandma's Boy holds the distinction of being Harold Lloyd's first feature length movie. Although some sources give that honor to 1921's A Sailor-Made Man, I disagree. That movie runs only 46 minutes, which is rather long for a short, but still nearly 15 minutes shy of feature length. Grandma's Boy clocks in at just under an hour, making it, by today's standards, Lloyd's first true full-length movie. He would never again star in a short film.

grandmas boyGrandma's Boy was originally intended as a sort of drama. Harold wanted to stretch himself as an actor and to focus a bit more on character development. He plays his usual Glasses Guy but he's more meek and cowardly than ever. He lets the neighborhood bully walk all over him and monopolize his girl's attention. He is afraid to shoo away a tramp that has made himself at home in Harold's Grandma's yard. The feisty old lady has to do it herself.

When this same tramp commits a robbery and shoots a man, a posse is formed to catch him. Harold is made a deputy but is so scared of his own shadow that he spends the night cowering under his bedcovers. His Grandma tells him a story about his grandfather's exploits during the Civil War. She tells him his Grandfather was also a coward but was given a lucky amulet by a wizened old crone that gave him special powers. She then produces this same lucky charm and gives it to Harold. I'm sure you can guess where the story is headed from there.

Grandma's Boy does contain humor but the sight gags are less frenetically paced than in most Lloyd movies. In one scene the bully pushes Harold into a well, ruining his best suit. His Grandma gives him his Grandfather's suit from 1861, which he proudly wears to call on his girl.grandmas boy During the flashback story set during the War Between the States, Harold plays his Grandfather. He looks exactly like Harold only with sideburns. The actor playing the bully is a Union General in a scene where Harold's Grandfather must steal some secret plans.

Why is it that in movies about the Civil War they are almost always shown from the point of view of the Rebel Army? Lloyd's Grandfather was a Confederate soldier as was Buster Keaton's character in The General. Neither actor was from the South. Perhaps it is more romantic to be on the losing side?

On an historical note, I find it interesting that Anna Townsend, the actress that plays Harold's Grandma, actually lived through the Civil War years. She was born January 5, 1845 in Utica, New York. That's the very same year in which Scarlett O'Hara was supposed to have been born. Anna Townsend was a spry 77 when she made this movie. She appeared in several other Lloyd comedies, always specializing in funny old lady parts. She died in 1923.

Grandma's Boy is not Harold Lloyd's funniest movie but it tells a sweet story and has plenty of heart.