Sunday, February 01, 2015

The Freshman (1925 film)

Directed by Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor and written by Taylor, John Grey, Tim Whelan, and Ted Wilde, The Freshman is the story of a newly-arrived college freshman who decides to join the school’s football team in order to win the heart of a young woman and the admiration of the school. The film plays into a young man’s desire to be cool in a new world only to bumble his way as the titular character is played by Harold Lloyd. Also starring Jobyna Ralston, Brooks Benedict, James Anderson, Hazel Keener, Joseph Harrington, and Pat Harmon. The Freshman is a hilarious and entertaining film from Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor.

The film explores a na├»ve young man who arrives into college hoping to become the big man on campus unaware that some of his attempts are played for laughs by the campus who see him as a joke. It’s a film that explores college life where Harold Lamb (Harold Lloyd) arrives to the fictional Tate University thinking he would win people over by imitating the antics of movie character he saw in the hopes that he will be liked and be the popular guy like the school’s top dog in Chet (James Anderson). Harold’s attempts which only makes him a joke does get the attention of a hatcheck girl named Peggy (Jobyna Ralston) who is aware of what the school is doing to Harold. The film’s screenplay definitely plays into Harold’s desire to be popular in the world of college but everything he’s learned about through films and books prove nothing where he becomes this easy target though the team’s football coach (Pat Harmon) sees he’s got spirit to be in the team but not the physique or mentality to be part of that team.

The film’s direction by Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor is truly exhilarating in the way it plays into Harold’s sense of excitement upon his arrival into Tate University to the trials and tribulations he would face during that time. Much of it would play into the kind of gags where Harold takes part in not knowing that he’s the joke as it would include some very funny sequences where he is unknowingly humiliated. Much of the compositions in the film are straightforward with its use of medium and wide shots as the latter is very evident in a party scene as well as the climatic football game where there’s a few dolly-tracking shots that play into the intensity of the game. Some of which involve some inventive gags and inspired moments in the comedy that includes some amazing elements of physical comedy that add punch to the humor. Overall, Newmeyer and Taylor create a very fun and whimsical film about a young freshman trying to be the most popular guy on campus.

Cinematographer Walter Lundin does brilliant work with the film‘s black-and-white photography to play into the look of excitement and exuberance in the daytime scenes while using a few filters for some key moments in the film. Editor Allen McNeil does excellent moments with the editing to create some unique rhythmic cuts to capture the energy of the humor as well as fade-outs to play into the film‘s structure. Art director Liell K. Vedder does fantastic work with the set pieces from the hall where the college party is at to the small room where Harold would stay in. The film’s music by Robert Israel (from its 2002 restored edition) is amazing for its very playful orchestral score that plays to the atmosphere of college as well as the gags that Harold would be a part of.

The film’s phenomenal cast includes notable small roles from Joseph Harrington as a tailor trying to stitch up Harold’s suit for the party, Hazel Keener as a college belle who flirts with Harold as a way to play a joke on him, Pat Harmon as the football coach who is angry that his team can’t tackle, James Anderson as the college hero Chet who takes part in the pranks to humiliate Harold, and Brooks Benedict as the college cad who would lead the way to humiliate Harold every way he can. Jobyna Ralston is wonderful as Peggy as the landlord’s daughter who sees Harold as a good guy that is unaware that he’s being humiliated as she would give this great speech about what he should be. Finally, there’s Harold Lloyd in a remarkable performance as Harold Lamb as this college freshman who arrives to Tate University only to be part of a prank as Lloyd’s approach to physical comedy and winning charm is key to the film’s success.

The Freshman is a sensational film from Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor that features an incredible performance from Harold Lloyd. The film isn’t just one of the finest films in the era of silent comedies but also a comedy that manages to be very exciting with a climax that engages the audience. In the end, The Freshman is a tremendously wild and fun film from Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor.

© thevoid99 2015

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