THE SIN OF HAROLD DIDDLEBOCK 1947 CARTOONLAND MYSTERIES 1936
THE SIN OF HAROLD DIDDLEBOCK (1947)
and GOING PLACES: CARTOONLAND MYSTERIES (1936)
THE SIN OF HAROLD DIDDLEBOCK starring Harold Lloyd, Jimmy Conlin, Edgar Kennedy, Franklin Pangborn, Margaret Hamilton, Raymond Walburn, Lionel Stander, Rudy Valee and Frances Ramsden. Directed by Preston Sturges. This, Harold Lloyd's final starring feature, is built upon a brilliant idea. What would happen to Lloyd's college hero character from his 1925 classic "The Freshman" 20+ years in the future? The answer is, a lot! While down on his luck, Harold partakes of a mysterious cocktail that bears his name. While under its influence he encounters crazy characters, amasses a fortune in gambling winnings and buys a circus - none of which he can remember the following day! A very entertaining film with lots of laughs, a tremendous cast and a legendary director. It was later released in a terrible re-cut version called "Mad Wednesday".
GOING PLACES: CARTOONLAND MYSTERIES narrated by Lowell Thomas. This short film, number 18 in Universal's "Going Places" series, takes us behind the scenes at the Walter Lantz studio to see how an Oswald the Rabbit cartoon is made. There's plenty of fun seeing the artists and animators at work and learning how the sound track and sound effects are produced.
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Of the three available versions (at the time of this review) on Amazon it would appear that the GoodTimes version may be the best.
I purchased the GoodTimes version, and while it starts out a little dirty and wobbly, it cleans up pretty good.
Other reviewers have taken the Alpha and Synergy releases to task and I have not seen them, but I have watched other releases by these companies so I have no doubt the other reviewers are correct in their assessments of those releases.
The beginning of the GoodTimes release states in a short preface that the best available elements were used for this disc, but that does not mean that these are the best elements in existence, but they might be. Maybe Criterion is interested in a release?
It begins promisingly; showing footage from the classic football game climax of 1925's "The Freshman", an ad boss in the crowd is so impressed with Harold that he offers him an office job at his firm, believing that the young man will do nothing but excel. Lloyd's films usually showed unyielding optimism as his character strived to be a success, one way or another. Isn't it ironic that here, the passage of time reveals Diddlebock has done nothing more than toil away at his desk for 20 or 30 years, a stoop-shouldered man who has lost his passion & idealism. Dysappointed that he hasn't progressed in such a long time, the boss fires a stunned Diddlebock, and on a chance encounter with diminutive Jimmy Conlin, H.D. has his first drink. But it's no ordinary drink, as it causes H.D. to black out for several hours. Soon, it's revealed he went on an uncharacteristically wild bend, during which he bought a circus! Transformation of character was always one of Lloyd's staples, and here, it's no different as H.D. is turned from mouse into man, throwing caution to the wind.
It's amazing that physically, Lloyd has hardly changed at all in 20-odd years since his silent days; he looks fit & youthful here. It's also helped that Sturges has armed each & every scene with sterling dialogue & surrounded Lloyd with a top-notch cast of supporting actors: Conlin, Rudy Vallee, Margaret Hamilton (already famous as the Wicked Witch in "The Wizard of Oz"), Franklin Pangborn, and Edgar Kennedy (remember him from the Laurel & Hardy comedies and the Marx Brothers' "Duck Soup"?). The climax with Lloyd dangling from the chain of his pet lion Jackie over a building ledge is surprisingly well done, a pleasing echo of his silent work from such films as "Safety Last".
Not a perfect film, as the film loses momentum for a while after "The Freshman" footage (which is so energetic & funny in comparison) but recovers with the infamous bar scene as Lloyd yowls his head off with the first drink. Also, too bad they didn't digitally restore this film, as it looks dark in places. Still, not a bad movie for Lloyd to exit on!
Long story short, the Synergy release of this film is a DVD-R disc, and appears to be copied directly from archive.org. Don't waste your time or money. If you want to watch a copy this pixelated, go download and burn it for free.