From Hand to Mouth (1919) starring Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis, Peggy Cartwright, Snub Pollard
From Hand to Mouth begins with a pretty young woman (Mildred Davis) stands to inherit a fortune. But a crooked lawyer deliberately does not tell her she must prove her claim before midnight. If she fails, the inheritance will go to her foster brother, whom the lawyer’s in league with. With blatant eye-winking between the two demonstrates. The lawyer decides to be doubly certain and hires a man (Snub Pollard) and his gang to kidnap her.
Meanwhile, a penniless young man (Harold Lloyd) and an unrelated child (the waif, Peggy Cartwright) are both hungry. There’s a very sweet moment at the beginning, where they both sit on a sidewalk curb, their heads resting on each other. Another man has bought a bagful of cookies, and Harold steals one for each of them. But the waif steals his, and there’s a short, funny chase involving the police as well. But all ends well with them together again.
The waif’s dog brings them some money (stolen from a crap game), so they purchase some food. When the money turns out to be counterfeit, the man tries to flee, but is caught by a policeman. The heiress happens to be driving by. She generously pays for the food, and the young man is allowed to go his way.
Later, he gets into trouble with the police again, this time over a wallet filled with money lying on the sidewalk. This is a very funny scene, as Harold follows the man who has stolen “his” money. With a large piece of lumber to beat him over the head with! Using the rule of three, the man pauses twice to throw Harold off his pace. The third attempt has Harold lift the lumber over his head – and accidentally hit a police officer on the head. However, Harold simply puts the lumber in the hand of the other man. The officer arrests him, and Harold takes “his” money back. Only to have to deal with another police officer!
To escape, he hitches a ride on a passing car – the kidnappers. The crooks decide to use the man as a scapegoat. After “jimmying a window” in the worst possible way, he breaks in. But other than letting the other crooks in, he eats. The crooks capture the woman and take her to their lair. Unable to stop them, Harold follows them to their hideout on a “borrowed” bicycle and having lassoed their car. He overhears the lawyer explaining the crooked situation. Harold then tries to alert several policemen, but they just brush him off.
He provokes the police, one by one at first, into chasing him. Finally, he smashes the window at the police station and literally has the entire police force chasing him. Literally, dozens of police in a madcap chase. He leads them to the crooks, and in the commotion he and the woman escape.
He takes her to the lawyer’s office just in time to sign a document and secure her inheritance. The film ends on a happy note with Harold, the woman, the waif, and the dog all eating their fill at a diner.
In short, From Hand to Mouth is a very funny silent film, and highly recommended.