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Review: Welcome Danger (1929)

Directed by: , | 115 minutes | | Actors: , , , ,

All the films from the early days of sound have suffered in some way from the transition to this completely new way of filmmaking, but “Welcome Danger” is just a bad production. The most unforgivable aspect of it is that it’s a boring comedy, and whether you’re making a silent movie or a sound movie, you shouldn’t make your audience yawn if you want to make them laugh.

The start is nice when Billie Lee ( Kent) has her photo taken by a machine at the station. Due to a technical failure, she does not get her money’s worth, but the botanist Harold Bledsoe (Harold Lloyd), who has his photo taken shortly after her, gets an intimate portrait of them together and can start dreaming of his ideal wife. That’s another nice find. Then he misses his train and can get a ride from Billie and her brother in their ramshackle car. He doesn’t recognize Billie from the photo, because she’s wearing worker’s clothes and a cap on her head to tinker with the car.

Harold’s name-calling at what he thinks is a grown-up boy is definitely no fun. The San Francisco police station is very much looking forward to Harold’s arrival. His father had a good reputation and they expect the son to find out the identity of the mastermind that commits numerous crimes from China Town. Harold, however, is so fanatically unworldly that he is a dork at the desk in no time. No one would believe him when he discovers that the mastermind “the dragon” is none other than the widely respected John Thorne (Charles Middleton).

The list of goings-on in this movie is saddening. The film lasts far, far too long, the dialogues are boring and the quality of the sound is sometimes horribly bad. Because of this, for example, the good police officer with whom Harold has to deal seems like an idiot with a speech impediment and that is probably not the intention. The image quality also leaves much to be desired and so it goes on. All in all, the film can be compared to a hastily cobbled pancake: undercooked and without taste.

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