The Sin of Harold Diddlebock
Release Year: 1947
Director: Preston Sturgess
Writer: Preston Sturgess
Starring: Harold Lloyd, Frances Ramsden, Jimmy Conlin, Raymond Walburn, Rudy Vallee, Edgar Kennedy, Arline Judge
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #323, week 37 2020
Twenty years after his promising performance at a football match, mild-mannered clerk Harold Diddlebock (Harold Lloyd) is stuck in a rut until he is laid off. A dejected Diddlebock decides to have his first drink ever and wakes up two days later with no recognition of what he did on Wednesday. As past event catches up to him the question remains: what did he do on Wednesday!
During the silent era, one of the big comedy stars was Harold Lloyd (Safety First, 1923) who released 12 feature films during the 1920s which earned more than Charlie Chaplin’s films. His stardom dwindled after the arrival of talkies and The Sin of Harold Diddlebock was his big return to the silver screen, and included many of the trademarks of his earlier comedies, including a spectacular thrill-scene with impressive stunt work. However, audiences were not as welcoming, perhaps a sign that comedy was now in another place than it was 20 years earlier during his heyday. Diddlecock is a quiet clerk who punches in and out of the same job for twenty years, all the while falling in love is a succession of sisters but never really doing anything about it. When Diddlebock is fired something is finally happening in his life, helped along by a drink invented by an ingenious bartender. When Diddlebock awakes from his drunken sleep, he finds that he has won on the horsetracks, bought a cab with horse and driver included, and a circus complete with animals. Didblebock now has to get this mess untangled somehow with lots of fun moments as a result. These moments include a famous bar scene (see below), a hilarious visit to a tailor, and a thrilling highrise scene in the company of the lion Jackie. Lloyd is fun and energetic, and the film plot is unpredictable and certainly unusual, but there is a pervading sense that the film is trying to capture the magic of something that was lost already when it was made and never quite getting there. Still a fun little comedy and recommended i you like old-fashioned comedy that combines physical comedy with snappy dialogue.
NB: There is no trailer available for The Sin of Harold Diddlebock. Instead we have the famous bar scene (please excuse the poor quality).
Preston Sturgess wrote the script to entice silent film comedy star Harold Lloyd out of retirement. It would be Lloyd’s final film appearance.
The film flopped on its original release. It was alter recut by producer Howard Hughes and re-released as Mad Wednesday. However, the re-release was no succes either.
The 1923 football game at the beginning of the film i footage from the Harold Lloyd silent comedy The Freshman (1923).