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The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (Mad Wednesday)

The unlikely combination of Howard Hughes, Preston Sturges, and Harold Lloyd produced this very funny, and very rarely shown film, which was never really released in 1947 outside a few cities, but which inspired James Agee to write: “A few years ago Harold Lloyd returned to play the lead (and play it beautifully) in Preston Sturges' The Sin of Harold Diddlebock, but this exceptional picture - which opened, brilliantly, with the closing reel of Lloyd's The Freshman - has not yet been generally released.” The original Variety trade review gives a fair sense of the film's qualities:

“Film segues expertly from the Freshman footage to the new product, showing Raymond Walburn, as an enthusiastic alumnus, now head of a top ad agency, promising Lloyd a job for having won the game. Lloyd takes the job after graduation but is stuck immediately into a minor bookkeeper's niche, where he remains forgotten for 22 years. Walburn finally remembers him long enough to fire him - which is where the fun starts. Lloyd, deep in the dumps, bumps into a racetrack tout who talks him into having his first drink. With a load on, he parlays a 15-1 bet into several hundred G's, throws his money around by buying a hansom cab and a bankrupt circus and then wakes up to find he's broke. In some zany slapstick, he sells the circus at a neat profit and wins the seventh in a series of sisters he's been courting over the 22-year stretch.

“Abetted by some excellent dialog from Sturges' pen, Lloyd handles his role in his usual funny fashion. One sequence, in which he dangles from a leash 80 stories above the sidewalk, with the other end of the leash tied to a nervous lion, is standout. The king of beasts is utilized for a number of other funny sequences. Rest of the cast, under Sturges' able direction, backs him capably. Vallee, Kennedy, Arline Judge, Franklin Pangborn and Lionel Stander, all familiar faces, are excellent in comparatively small roles. Vet vauder Jimmy Conlin, as his tout sidekick, makes his top impression in pix. Walburn also does well, and a deep bow is due the debut work of Frances Ramsden as the seventh sister whom Lloyd finally wins.”

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