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  For Heaven's Sake Man With A Mission
Year: 1926
Director: Sam Taylor
Stars: Harold Lloyd, Jobyna Ralston, Noah Young, Jim Mason, Paul Weigel
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Downtown is where the poor reside, and where Brother Paul (Paul Weigel) has devoted himself to good works, assisted by his daughter (Jobyna Ralston), yet their lack of money means he only has a cart to work from. What he really prays for is a proper mission building, but it looks like a vain hope. Uptown, meanwhile, is where all the rich folks enjoy their wealth, including one J. Harold Manners (Harold Lloyd), a millionaire who thinks nothing of buying a car to match his clothes and thinks even less of the disadvantaged. However, all that is about to change...

For Heaven's Sake was not one of Lloyd's most famous films, perhaps because it lacked the stunning stuntwork of Safety Last, but for the patient it did include a grand finale that featured a bravura example of skill from both the star and his team. The story may not be the most over-involved in the world, but that is to the film's advantage, keeping it light and easing up on the potentially tearjerking aspects: yes, the preacher and his daughter are in dire need of a helping hand, but we never get bogged down in social issues or emotionally heavy sequences as a certain Charlie Chaplin might have done.

In fact, the emphasis is strictly on the gags and all the better for it. At times genuinely hilarious, the film also sets up its main character to go on a personal journey from selfishness and self-satisfaction to redemption thanks to the love of a good woman. Lloyd risks losing audience sympathy early on when he plays up the less admirable aspects of the millionaire's personality, although this does offer the opportunity for some ridiculous jokes where he buys cars as if they're going out of fashion, mainly because the ones he owns keep getting trashed.

The film's most famous scene is a short one, where Lloyd, after being involved in a police chase, runs out of gas and sees his vehicle grind to a halt, only when he gets out to turn the hand crank, a steam train rushes into frame, smashing the car out of the way and leaving Lloyd standing holding the crank where the car used to be. It's a deceptively simple stunt, but like much of the star's work a brave one. After that, the millionaire accidentally burns the cart to the ground, and gives Brother Paul a cheque that he thinks will cover its replacement but actually will cover the cost of the mission.

When Harold discovers his name is above the new mission, he is outraged and rushes across town to do something about it, but when he meets the daughter he is suddenly lovestruck and thus begins his reform. In an inspired sequence, he rounds up all the dodgy characters from the neighbourhood by getting them to chase him, reminiscent of Buster Keaton's Cops, and they all end up in the mission, inadvertently kept there by the presence of the police outside. But Lloyd and his cohorts save the best for last, a sidesplitting instance of what could have been an already-clich├ęd by then drunk act. After being kidnapped by his rich friends, Harold has to get back to the mission for his wedding, and events conspire to see him escorting the now-inebriated new friends who came to save him all the way back. Not only is this last act packed with laugh out loud moments, but the business on the bus is truly thrilling. For Heaven's Sake may be a minor work to some eyes, but it is really among the star's most charming and inspired works.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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