Harold Lloyd knew how to play an innocent, as in The Cat’s Paw (1934), and here he is the son of a missionary in China, one wishing to perpetuate his father’s work by returning to Stockport, California, the place of his birth, in order to marry and produce offspring. But the toxic political machine in Stockport seizes the Lloyd character—Ezekiel Cobb—to render him a straw candidate for mayor with the expectation that the machine’s reprobate candidate (a good Alan Dinehart) will win. Cobb, however, comes across as a “regular guy” and he wins. Subsequently he learns perfectly how unsavory men can injure him, and vigorously he fights them not only for his own good but also for the city’s good.
This is a Harold Lloyd talkie, consisting of lively set pieces, likable wit, and respectable acting. Once the funny moments begin to subside, even so, the movie’s pace drags a bit; and yet Lloyd and Una Merkel (the saucy love interest) hold the eye. As for the ear, it’s fascinated by such talk as when the innocent earnestly asks Merkel: “Why is it that all American girls are so lacking in individuality?” In 1934, were they?
Directed by Sam Taylor.
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