The Sin of Harold Diddlebock

I had to go to work. I returned to see my FedEx package with Super Bowl information. Now I have to think about getting to the stadium and back on the day of the game. I browsed through the bargain bin of the record store and bought a DVD of “The Sin of Harold Diddlebock,” starring Harold Lloyd directed by Preston Sturges. It certainly wasn’t Sturges’ most inspired creation, but it’s not a disgrace. I had to notice the alcoholic humor and had to think of how drinking may have contributed to Sturges’ decline. The first eight minutes of footage comes from “The Freshman,” with some shots intercut. This seemed like a hint that Sturges was running low on ideas. The best bits in the movie were in the old footage, as opposed to everything else that reminded us of greater films from both Lloyd and Sturges. Harold goes straight from the football field to a job, going from sports hero to nondescript employee. It looked like he didn’t change clothes at all in 22 years. He also talked about falling in love with the sisters of an employee, which sounded creepy to me when I first saw this movie years ago, and still made me uncomfortable today. The pace feels slow and rather empty. We do see some familiar faces from other Sturges films. For example, Rudy Vallee was also in “The Palm Beach Story.” It seemed a shame that there was no horse race shown, as there were comic possibilities there. I had to wonder what was cut from this movie. We have a lion running loose through much of the film, which was reminiscent of “Bringing Up Baby.” Harold looked genuinely frightened of the lion in at least one shot. One of the key sequences in the movie involves the lion on the ledge of a building, naturally evoking the classic “Safety Last.” The characters stumble about in trying to deal with the lion. Someone had to tell Sturges that clumsiness in a comedy can be annoying after a while, as we start seeing the characters as incompetent and stupid. The ending has that sudden Sturges twist, though not as convincing as in Sturges’ earlier films. It seemed that the bankers and reporters would have figured things out, unless they were extremely dumb. This movie doesn’t have the brilliance we expected from Sturges, but it isn’t as bad as its reputation is. I see it as an effort to keep the creativity going, not quite heroic and with something of a bittersweet feeling to it. Harold’s pain is a little bit too much to make the romantic comedy very persuasive. Margaret Hamilton from “The Wizard of Oz” had a role. She had it seem that there was no difference between good and evil. I shuddered to think of what life would be like stuck in the same room with her. It was disturbing to think that Sturges wasn’t too old when he died. I wonder what he thought about his writing skills during those last years. I had to think about myself and what I do for a living, and whether I’m going downhill with my work. I think I have to spend more time talking with people of my age. I watched the Partridge Family episode “Mom Drops Out.” I assumed that they didn’t go to France to film the ending. I also assumed that Laurie didn’t eat any of the chicken they had for dinner. I watched the Johnny Carson program from June 1988 with Jay Leno and Raquel Welch. Jay Leno had black hair and was still funny. Raquel talked about her 26-year-old daughter, and meeting a terminally ill man. The Lakers had just won the championship, beating the Detroit Pistons in a seventh game. I fell asleep. I didn’t really want to watch television shows like “Dear John” in the middle of the night. I saw the ending of “The Outside Man.” One of them shoots through a casket, but you could tell the gun just made noise because there weren’t any bullet holes. Certain things destroy the illusion of a movie. This week we had a Wayne Rogers tribute on Me TV, and today we have a tribute to Pat Harrington. I used to get him confused with Jack Burns. I had some thoughts on what the A’s season would be like. Some of the people who died on January 9 include Peter Cook (1995), Jesse White (1997), and Peter Yates (2011). Today is a birthday for JK Simmons (61), Crystal Gayle (65), and Jimmy Page (72).

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