20 July 2014 | StevePulaski
Bravery and commitment to the highest degree as Lloyd goes out with a bang for the silent short era of his career
Harold Lloyd's Never Weaken finds itself notable for several reasons, more than just being Lloyd's final silent short before moving on to strictly feature-length productions. For one, the short was a pioneer of the silent genre known as "thrill-comedy," which blended the elements of slapstick and humor with aspects of a thriller, giving audiences moments to laugh and moments to gasp which, if done right, could give off complex feelings. Furthermore, a good chunk of this short features Lloyd atop a large construction sight, balancing on long, metal pillars, struggling to stay on, and hanging on for dear life in, which only proves more tantalizing when one realizes that Lloyd did all his own stunts for this short, refusing to wear a wire or a harness to further ensure safety and support.
The film stars Lloyd as an office-worker, who plans to wed the beautiful Mildred (Mildred Davis), whom has been his girlfriend for a long time now. However, after hearing a man say to her "of course I will marry you," without any context, the man becomes distraught, emotionally upset, and decides to commit suicide by blindfolding himself and rigging a gun to fire when he pulls a string that is tied to the trigger. After an odd and nearly unexplainable series of events, with the bullet hitting the light next to him, the man finds himself high above the city, atop a construction site, all of a sudden struggling to hold on for dear life.
Never Weaken illustrates the age-old idea of a misunderstanding, which has been put to great effect in comedy films and, as we see, even the early days of silent filmmaking. Being brewed from the classic misrepresentation makes for cute innovation, for the time, as we find ourselves one step ahead of the character with each turn, right from the core misunderstanding in the very beginning. Throw in Lloyd's incredible facial acting and unbelievably talented physical comedy, and this is a conglomeration of true talent and innovation you can't help but cheer on through and through.
Starring: Harold Lloyd and Mildred Davis. Directed by: Fred Newmeyer and Sam Taylor.