Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Even taking into consideration such worthy candidates as Safety Last and The Freshman, many Harold Lloyd fans regard The Kid Brother as his finest film. A humorous variation on Tol'able David, the film stars Lloyd as Harold Hickory, the youngest member of the rural Hickory family. Though out-muscled by his sheriff father (Walter James) and brawny brothers (Olin Francis, Leo Willis), Harold is the cleverest of the Hickorys, industriously figuring out all sorts of clever devices to streamline his housekeeping chores. Still, his father and brothers treat him as the baby of the family, leaving him to mind the farm while they head for a town meeting. In his dad's absence, however, Harold is deputized to deliver a "cease and desist" summons to a travelling carnival which has pitched camp nearby. Upon arriving at the carnival, Harold discovers that its owner is the lovely Mary Powers (Jobyna Ralston), whom he'd met the day before. A fire breaks out in the tent, leaving Mary homeless, but Harold invites her to stay the night at his farm -- making certain that his roughneck brothers observe the proper social amenities. The next day, it is discovered that the money for an important dam project, left in the care of Harold's father, has been stolen. The elder Hickory is held responsible, but the real culprit is brutish carnival strongman Sandoni (Constantin Romanoff). Through a chain of incredible coincidences, Harold finds himself facing Sandoni on board a derelict boat. For a while, it looks as though Sandoni is going to mop the deck with Harold, but our hero gains the upper hand when he finds out that his behemoth opponent can't swim! Just as his father is about to be lynched by the angry mob, Harold delivers the unconscious Sandoni to the doorstep of the jail. Proudly, Harold's father declares "Son, you're a true Hickory!" -- but the story isn't quite over yet, since Harold still has to propose to Mary, and to clean the clock of the local bully who's been annoying him all through the picture. Beautifully photographed and expertly directed (Lewis Milestone, though uncredited, helmed many of the important scenes), The Kid Brother is everything a good silent comedy should be, and an enduring testament to the brilliance of Harold Lloyd. Best bit: That eye-popping crane shot as Harold shinnies up a tree to bid several fond farewells to the departing Mary.
battle [war], brother, bully, challenge, child, coward, family, father, hero, sheriff, silence, small-town, son, town, underdog, winner
High Historical Importance