MANCHESTER, NH — It’s a candidate for Hollywood’s first-ever “rom-com”: a silent film comedy that inadvertently pioneered an enduring cinematic genre.
It’s ‘Girl Shy,’ a frenetic, kinetic, get-me-to-the-church-on-time Harold Lloyd silent comedy classic, to be screened on Thursday, Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Rex Theatre, 23 Amherst St., Manchester.
Admission is $10 per person. Tickets are available at the door or online at www.palacetheatre.org in advance.
A live musical score for the movie will be performed by Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based silent film accompanist.
‘Girl Shy’ (1924) stars Harold Lloyd as a timid young man from a small town who pens a book about imaginary female conquests.
Trouble begins when bashful Harold falls in love for real, and then must rescue his beloved from marrying the wrong man in the big city.
” ‘Girl Shy’ is a great film to show around Valentine’s Day, because it’s all about the ageless human experience of love,” Rapsis said.
Harold’s dilemma prompts a climactic race to the altar that stands as one of the great chases in all of cinema. The sequence was so successful that MGM used it as a model for the famous chariot race in the original silent film version of ‘Ben Hur’ (1925).
The film is bursting with visual comedy typical of the silent era, but the romantic storyline was strong enough to act as a counterweight, creating a new hybrid genre now known as the romantic comedy, or “rom-com.”
Co-starring in ‘Girl Shy’ is actress Jobyna Ralston, who often played Lloyd’s leading lady, including in later Lloyd masterpieces ‘The Freshman’ (1925) and ‘The Kid Brother’ (1927).
‘Girl Shy,’ directed by Lloyd’s colleagues Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor, was among the 10 top-grossing films of 1924.
Harold Lloyd, along with Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, stands today as one of the three masters of silent comedy. Throughout the 1920s, Lloyd’s films enjoyed immense popularity, ranking regularly among the highest-grossing of the era.
Though Lloyd’s reputation later faded due to unavailability of his movies, the recent re-release of most of his major films on DVD and other media has spurred a reawakening of interest in his work and has led to more screenings of his work in moviehouses, where it was designed to be shown.
“Seeing a Harold Lloyd film in a theater with live music and an audience is one of the great experiences of the cinema of any era,” said Jeff Rapsis, the Rex Theatre’s resident silent film accompanist.
The Rex Theatre’s silent film series is intended to give local audiences a chance to experience the best of early Hollywood the way it was meant to be seen—on the big screen, with live music, and with an audience.
“These films weren’t intended to be shown on a laptop,” Rapsis said. “It’s worth putting the whole experience together, because you can still see why audiences first fell in love with the movies,” Rapsis said.
Upcoming screenings include:
- Thursday, April 21, 2022, 7:30 p.m.: ‘Ben Hur‘ (1925) starring Ramon Novarro and a cast of thousands. In the Holy Land, a Jewish prince is enslaved by the occupying Romans; inspired by encounters with Jesus, he lives to seek justice. One of the great religious epics of Hollywood’s silent film era, including a legendary chariot race that’s lost none of its power to thrill.
- ‘Girl Shy’ will be shown on Thursday, Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Rex Theatre, 23 Amherst St., Manchester, N.H. Admission is $10 per person. For more info and to buy tickets, visit www.palacetheatre.org or call (603) 668-5588.
For more about the music, visit www.jeffrapsis.com.