The Freshman (1925) Director: Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor
The Freshman is the original college satire film. It was Harold Lloyd’s second big hit comedy film after Safety Last! in 1923. The film was shot at a variety of California college campuses, including USC and the sports teams at the close of the film were actually Stanford and UC Berkeley. It was Lloyd’s most successful film of the 1920s.
Harold Lloyd plays a fresh-faced and ambitious, albeit clumsy, student who is going away to college. He tries to emulate his college football hero, but ultimately winds up looking foolish. He meets a young girl, Peggy, who likes him, despite the fact that he is pranked from the commencement ceremony to the football team to the Fall “frolic” where his suit is constantly unraveling at the seams. In the end, he is put in to play for the football team in a last-ditch effort when all other available players have been injured and he unexpectedly wins the game and wins the heart of Peggy.
The Freshman is a delightful comedy film that is amazingly well-preserved by the Criterion Collection. It was a pleasure to see the origins of many of the gags employed in later college satire films – a fresh-faced student, the jock stereotype, and the mean crusty Dean of the College. The film is terrific.