Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Feet First


Harold Lloyd’s second “talkie,” one of only seven he made. He’s a shoe salesman in Honolulu who aspires to better things, and the story contains his usual physical humor combined with his attempts to squirm out of embarrassing social situations. It’s most noteworthy for an extended scene that looks even more perilous than his stunts in Safety Last!, which contains the famous image of him dangling from the hands of a clock, many stories above the street. This involves his misadventures all up and down the side of a skyscraper on a window-washer’s rope scaffold. Not for people with acrophobia. He is “helped” by a slow-moving, slow-talking, slow-witted black janitor, played by Willie Best, whose stage name early in his career was “Sleep ‘n’ Eat.” He was from the Stepin Fetchit school of acting … which, of course, was about the only roles open to blacks at the time. He was well-respected in the business, and tried to get the worst racism out of his movies, but what can you do?