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Harold Hall (Harold Lloyd) is a literal small-town boy from Littletown, Kansas obsessed with all things celluloid. When Harold accidentally sends a photo of a handsome young man to Hollywood's Planet Studios, executive J.L. O'Brien (Spencer Charters) invites Hall out to Tinseltown for a screen test. Harold's bewildered father offers to buy his starry-eyed son a round-trip ticket but Harold will have none of that, convinced that his life's destiny awaits. "When I come back I'll come rolling in a Rolls Royce" he tells his father.
Just seconds off the train at Los Angeles's Union Station, Harold appears to get his first big break -- a role as an extra in a production filming at the station. In no time, Harold has inflated his role to a starring one and reduced the set to chaos. Thus begins a string of hilariously fumbling attempts by Harold to break into the movie industry.
Harold eventually scores a thoroughly disastrous screen test which manages to further outrage executive O'Brien. But he soon discovers something better than his career when he meets a beautiful actress Mary Sears (Constance Cummings) who warms to his goofy charms, which provide a refreshing break from the possessive, drunken affections of actor-beau Vance (Kenneth Thomson).
Many consider Harold Lloyd's Movie Crazy (1932) his best sound film of the seven talkies he made. The film is especially appreciated by modern film fans for its glimpse of early talkie-era film production techniques. But despite critical acclaim, like Variety's pronouncement "Movie Crazy is a 100% click. Sure-fire belly laugh-getter anywhere" the film failed to enjoy box office success, undoubtedly due to its release during the worst phase of the Depression.
Movie Crazy was made after Lloyd's two year sabbatical from film and contained elements of his personal history, such as Lloyd's own small-town origins in Burchard, Nebraska. Harold Hall's efforts to adapt himself to the new sound-era Hollywood also paralleled Lloyd's own struggles to translate silent success to talkie triumph.
Lloyd was rumored to have screened Movie Crazy for an audience of deaf mutes to test the feasibility of releasing the film as a silent in Europe, and reported that that preview audience was able to follow about 90 percent of the action. Lloyd saw Movie Crazy as a way to recapture his adoring movie audience of the twenties, and so loaded the film with ample moments of the silent, physical comedy he was known for, though he failed to integrate essential ingredients of the talkies like a musical score.
Movie Crazy's director was Clyde Bruckman, a top notch comedy craftsman and writer on projects such as Buster Keaton's Sherlock, Jr. (1924) and The General (1927), who had one fatal flaw: a debilitating drinking problem. Lloyd reported that during the production of Movie Crazy, Bruckman "had a little difficulty with the bottle and we practically had to wash him out and I had to carry on." Despite directing the majority of the film himself, Lloyd ended up giving Bruckman sole credit as director and went on to work with him on many subsequent pictures including Welcome Danger (1929) and Professor Beware (1938). However, Bruckman's drinking and legal problems eventually made him unemployable and in 1955 he shot himself with Buster Keaton's pistol.
In 1949 Lloyd revived Movie Crazy to moderate success, with Time magazine commenting that it - "was not one of Lloyd's best, but compared with most recent film comedies, it sparkles like vintage champagne." But despite his determination to make it as a talkie comic, Lloyd unfortunately never recaptured the glory or the laughs of his silent classics like Safety Last (1923) and The Freshman (1925).
Director: Clyde Bruckman
Producer: Harold Lloyd
Screenplay: Vincent Lawrence based on a story by Agnes Christine Johnston, John Grey, Felix Adler
Cinematography: Walter Lundin
Production Design: William MacDonald, Harry Oliver
Cast: Harold Lloyd (Harold Hall), Constance Cummings (Mary Sears), Kenneth Thomson (Vance, A Gentleman Heavy), Sydney Jarvis (The Director), Eddie Fetherston (Bill, the Assistant Director), Robert McWade (Wesley Kitterman, the Producer), Louise Closser Hale (Mrs. Kitterman, His Wife), Spencer Charters (J.L. O'Brien).
by Felicia Feaster