Grandma’s Boy (1922) starring Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis
Grandma’s Boy is the story of a quiet, shy, and yes, cowardly young man played by Harold Lloyd. His childhood is shown in flashback, humorously showing his cowardly nature. Which gets him in further trouble as he’s courting his girlfriend (Mildred Davis) only to be intimidated by a bully (Charles Stevenson) who takes credit for churning the ice cream (the film is set back in the 1920’s after all) and ends up pushing him into a well — where his suit comically shrinks. Harold goes to visit his Grandmother who raised him, and she asks him to throw a tramp (Dick Sutherland) off the premises — but the tramp refuses to go and pushes Harold around, until Grandma (Anna Townsend) chases him off with a broom. She encourages him to wear his grandfather’s old suit when he goes courting that night, and after getting it out of mothballs, the duo proceed to get it ready.
Some clowning with a lit candle follows, but Harold is ready to call on his girlfriend — in his outdated suit, which matches their butlers. Undaunted, Harold presses on, with musical encouragement from his girlfriend, and more clowning ensues as Harold gets his finger stuck in an empty flower pot, and the kittens come to lick his boots. Because Grandmother has shined with goose fat. Harold scares them off with a statue of a dog, and all seems well … Until Harold finds some leftover mothballs in his suit, which he disposes of in the nearest container. It’s a candy box, which his girlfriend proceeds to feed him a mothball from.
Sure enough, Harold’s rival reappears, inserting himself between Harold and Mildred, and soon both of the gentlemen are chewing mothballs. The bully proceeds to beat up and threaten Harold, and Harold mildly takes the beating. Soon they’re interrupted by a sheriff’s posse looking for that unruly tramp, who has broken into a jewelry store, stolen and accosted 2 gentlemen, shooting one of them. Every able-bodied man must serve as a deputy — but Harold lucks out as the sheriff runs out of badges.
The rival is quick to take advantage of the situation, and “kindly” gives his badge to Harold. Mildred gives Harold a kiss for good luck, and the cowardly Harold is off! Off, losing the rest of the posse, and being ‘attacked’ by various things (such as a rake that he steps onto, chickens in a barn, etc.) The cowardly Harold runs home and barricades the doors, waking his Grandma. She looks through a keyhole and sees him shaking under his bed covers, wishing that there were something she could do to help him.
Morning comes with Harold’s realization that he’s a weak, worthless coward — and Grandma tells a flashback story of Harold’s grandpa, who also thought that he was a coward (Harold playing his Grandpa in the flashback set during the American Civil War, where an old gypsy woman gives him a “magic” token to make him unbeatable — and with some slapstick, he succeeds in his mission). Back in the present, Grandma gives Harold the “magic” charm, and off he goes with a renewed purpose.
Filled with confidence, Harold quickly finds out that the tramp is trapped in the old Miller shack, where he’s wounded 5 men — and so Harold “borrows” a horse and is off to the shack. He leads a charge against the tramp, who’s firing wildly and frightens off the other deputies — but not indestructible Harold! Some slapstick follows with Harold going throug the door, and after a black cat crosses his path, goes through the other door and subdues the tramp.
The “captured” tramp tears his handcuffs apart, and escapes in a car, with the other deputies and Harold in hot pursuit. There’s slapstick with Harold trying to catch a ride on the overloaded car, but his bad look turns into good luck as he finds and captures the tramp a second time. The tramp escapes again from the overconfident Harold, and so the chase is on again, this time with Harold in a car chasing the tramp on foot, until the tramp is literally exhaused and dragged away by Harold. He eventually brings the tramp to the sheriff’s, pushing him in a baby buggy, with everyone thanking him, Grandma seeing her boy having done well, Harold’s girlfriend having heard the good news, and Harold about to settle the score with his rival.
Grandma watches as the two men fight, and after a prolonged tussle, Harold is winning — until he loses his good luck charm. Having regained it, Harold dodges a sneak attack and knocks his rival into the well — payback for earlier. Grandma reveals at the end that the “charm” was nothing more than an umbrella handle, and it was all Harold.
After a brief misunderstanding with Mildred, Harold proposes, she accepts, and they walk off – with a final slapstick fall into water.