In honor of the first National Silent Movie Day–September 29, 2021–I wanted to celebrate by writing about one of my favorite silent films, Girl Shy (1924). I am a huge fan of Jobyna Ralston, who appears in this film, as well as the films in which she appeared alongside Harold Lloyd. A perfect counterpart girl to his character, “The Boy,” their performances are beautifully captured in this early romantic comedy.
Girl Shy tells the story of Harold Meadows (Lloyd) who is painfully shy near women, who nonetheless publishes a how-to book about his fictitious conquests called The Secret of Making Love. Along the way, he fatefully crosses paths with his true love–Mary Buckingham–and her Pomeranian. While their chemistry is evident, Buckingham has a very persistent suitor who is determined to have her become his trophy wife. From the saccharine to the chaotic, this sweet story is filled with memorable romantic and comedic moments as well as–in true Lloyd form–a hilarious chase sequence to save the day.
The cast of this film is as follows:
- Harold Lloyd as Harold Meadows, The Poor Boy
- Jobyna Ralston as Mary Buckingham, The Rich Girl
- Richard Daniels as Jerry Meadows, The Poor Man
- Carlton Griffin as Ronald DeVore, The Rich Man
- Nola Luxford as Vamp Girl (uncredited)
- Judy King as Flapper Girl (uncredited)
- William Orlamond as Thornsby’s Assistant (uncredited)
- Gus Leonard as Bearded Train Passenger (uncredited)
- Earl Mohan as Sleeping Trolley Rider (uncredited)
- Joe Cobb (“Our Gang”) as Boy in Tailor Shop (uncredited)
- Jackie Condon (“Our Gang”) as Boy in Tailor Shop Having Pants Sewn (uncredited)
- Mickey Daniels (“Our Gang”) as Newsboy (uncredited)
While the film was in production, its working title was The Girl Expert. Most of its exterior shots were filmed at Holmby House, owned by Arthur Letts of Bullock’s Department Stores. This would be Lloyd’s first independent film after separating himself from Hal Roach Studios, as well as the second of six on-screen pairings for Lloyd and Ralston.
On a personal note, there is so much that I adore about this film. Lloyd and Ralston are perfectly cast in this film and their performances are lovely to behold. Their characters’ journeys grow exceptionally well and there is a fine balance of comedic, romantic, and challenging moments throughout the film.
Moreover, the film itself is beautifully shot–from the sweeter moments between Lloyd and Ralston to the innovative chase sequence, following Lloyd as he makes use of at least twelve different vehicles to come to Ralston’s rescue. Also, as a Pomeranian owner, I’m also a big proponent of this whole scene:
For fans of romantic comedy, this early venture into the genre is an absolute gem.