The Kid Brother (1927) Review

The Kid Brother (1927) Director: Ted Wilde (though there were several directors)

★★★☆☆

The Kid Brother is the story of the Hickory family, respected rural gentry with three sons. The patriarch is the local sheriff. Both elder brothers do not respect the youngest (Harold Lloyd) and they call him weak. A traveling medicine show comes to town, and Harold, who is wearing his father’s gear, is mistaken for the local sheriff. A young woman, Mary, is part of the traveling show (since her father died) and Harold, posing as his father, allows the show to proceed.

Harold then gets into a fight with Hank, his arch-nemesis who starts a fire and burns down the medicine show wagon. Harold invites Mary to stay the night at his family’s home, in part so that she can avoid any unwanted attention from a lurking creeper named Sandoni. The next day, Farrell and Sandoni are found missing as are the funds for building the town dam, and the sheriff, Harold’s father, is blamed. He sends his two older sons after Farrell and Sandoni but they turn up empty-handed. Mary is then accused of the theft, as well, and Harold is knocked out where he falls into a row boat while trying to defend her. He is then sent adrift until he awakens and happens upon a boat where he discovers the missing men and money. He recovers the money and returns it to Hickory, thus freeing his father. In the end, he finally becomes a celebrated Hickory family member.

Lewis Milestone originally directed this film, but he abandoned the project due to an internal dispute. Then Ted Wilde took it over, as Lloyd’s friend, but he ultimately quit as a result of pneumonia and died in 1929, and so Lloyd ultimately finished directing the project himself. After watching this film, I learned that in the 1970s Lloyd eventually had his own show, featuring clips from his silent films. In his heyday he made more than 300 films. He retired after completing six talkies and proceeded to preserve the original negatives for his films, though many were lost in a tragic fire in 1943 at his private studio –the destruction tore Lloyd apart. He died in 1971 and since then his films have steadily been re-appraised thanks to the efforts of the Criterion Collection and others.

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