Welcome Danger

Welcome Danger ★★½

No longer the 'fad' of '27, 1929 saw the continued transition from silence to sound. Though that transition still wasn’t always an easy one. Case-in-point, Harold Lloyd’s first talkie “Welcome Danger”. A picture that started off a silent, before Lloyd decided to have new scenes shot and give his production a voice.

Which makes “Danger” a crazy-quilt movie - with pieces from the original silent melded awkwardly with the new material. Plus the dubbing was sad, especially for Barbara Kent, whose girlish voice sounds like it was transmitted from another dimension. And Lloyd and his crew were like kids at Christmas who play with their new toy to excess. Every sigh, every grunt, every bit of exposition and repeated dialogue is kept in. It's like, "We have sound, so we’re going use the hell out of it!"

The film (about a guy who is trying to live up to his Police Chief father’s legacy) spins out of control in about every way possible: Timing is off, scenes go on way too long, the romance never heats up.

I did receive laughs early on: Lloyd’s solution to quieting a crying baby and his reaction to a double exposed photo were cute. Unfortunately it turns sour thereafter, with Harold’s character becoming both physically and verbally abusive to his traveling companion. The picture's flabby mid section didn't help matters, and I was about ready to throw in the towel.

Thankfully Danger picks up for the final reel. The scenes with Harold and his cop pal, who are trapped in a maze of a dark basement, surrounded by baddies, offer up several guffaws (in addition to a few groans – the film never completely gels). And we do hear the new tool put to good use with an early example of the coconut sound (when a character is conked on the noggin)

The ending is strange, and creepy with its violence - Harold is whipped by a giant black man. And later, the drug lord villain has his head thrust in a vice, with Lloyd slowly giving it the squeeze. While there are laughs to be had (the water in the face bit) this sequence –like many others- needed to be tightened up.

Overall it’s a rough, clumsy, up and down movie: There were times where I laughed, but there were also too many awful bits. I’ll cut them some slack, they were figuring this out and would soon master it. (Lloyd starred in a couple of good talkies) but this is still one of the comics worst.