Harold Lloyd was said to have done all his own stunts, and that is mostly true, except for this notable entry. Harvey Parry, one of the pioneering stuntman, admitted after Lloyd’s death that he doubled for him in the most dangerous stunts in this movie and several others. Harvey said of performing stunts during the silent film era, “It was taboo in those days to say, “I doubled Harold Lloyd or “He doubled Douglas Fairbanks” because the public believed they did their own work. I doubled Harold Lloyd–who couldn’t stand heights–and he gave me every precaution I wanted in climbing buildings and so forth. The only thing I could not have was publicity.”
When asked how stuntmen were hired in those days, Harvey said, “The casting director or somebody would come out and say, “Anybody wanna make $10?” They [the stunt men] never said, “What have we got to do?” They said, “Yes, I will”. The guy that was chosen would have to jump off a building, So he jumped. If he made it, fine. If he didn’t, he got free room and board in the hospital for a while.” Harvey was still doing stunts in his eighties before he died of a heart attack in 1985. Harvey was thought of to have taken part in over 600 movies as stunt double or stunt man, and is usually uncredited on IMDB, but was known to have doubled for James Cagney, Peter Lorre, George Raft and Humphrey Bogart.
|Harvey Parry and James Cagney|
Never Weaken was directed by Fred C. Newmeyer for Hal Roach Studios and was Harold Lloyd’d last short film. He managed to perfect his “thrill comedy” formula in this film and used it to great effect in his features, especially Safety Last in 1923 (more on that later, hint hint). Harold was brilliant at humanizing moments and then taking the audience to extremes. He once said, “The spectacle of a fat man slipping on an icy sidewalk never fails to get a laugh. The same is true of a man attempting to drive a nail and mashing his finger in the process, or a man with his arms full of bundles attempting to keep his hat from blowing off. These things are funny because they have happened to all of us and probably will happen again. They are trying experiences for the individuals involved and we sympathize with them. But we laugh, nevertheless because they are human touches.”
Things to look up (click on item to go to IMDB ):
- Harvey Parry
- Never Weaken
- Hal Roach Studios
- Harold Lloyd
- James Cagney
- Humphrey Bogart
- Fred C. Newmeyer
- Peter Lorre
- George Raft
Glossary of stunt terms as defined by Wikipedia:
- Visual Gag – In comedy, a visual gagor sight gagis anything which conveys its humor visually, often without words being used at all. The gag may involve a physical impossibility or an unexpected occurrence. The humor is caused by alternative interpretations of the going-ons. Visual gags are used in magic, plays, and acting on television / movies.