The Freshman (1925)
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Harold Lloyd has been unjustly overshadowed (in retrospect) by Keaton and Chaplin, but he may have been their equal.
The Freshman was my first Harold Lloyd picture and I am totally on board with his brand of comedy. He may run a somewhat distant third to Chaplin and Keaton's maverick silent cinema, but there's just as much craft on show. In this one, Lloyd is a naive college freshman whose classmates are consistently putting on, making him think he's popular while actually laughing behind his back. Lloyd is the everyman, nervous and eager to please, and so easily duped, and yet his spirit triumphs and we can be hopeful that good will triumph over bullying. Jobyna Ralston is engaging as the doe-eyed woman who understands him best. It's a gentler type of comedy, character-driven and though Lloyd takes his spills (especially in the football-related stuff), it's less reliant on physical prowess than better-known silent comedies. In fact, I think it would have worked almost as well as a talky. Only almost, because I would have missed the frankly witty interstitial cards. If The Freshman is indicative of his output's quality, I'm going to be seeking more of Lloyd's movies.
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In 6 official lists
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This movie ranks #8 in Leonard Maltin's 100 Must-See Films of the 20th Century
This movie ranks #25 in BFI's 360 Classic Feature Films Project
This movie ranks #27 in Library of Congress's National Film Registry
This movie ranks #47 in Silent Era's The Top 300 Silent Era Films
This movie ranks #79 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs
This movie ranks #831 in The Criterion Collection