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Film / Girl Shy

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Harold imagines disciplining The Flapper

Girl Shy is a 1924 film directed by Fred Taylor and Sam Newmeyer and starring Harold Lloyd.

Here Lloyd plays Harold Meadows, a meek tailor's apprentice in the tiny California town of Little Bend. Harold is terrified to death by girls, reduced to a stammering wreck whenever they talk to him—which of course means that in his spare time he has written a how-to book on the art of romancing women. While on the train to deliver his manuscript to a publisher in Los Angeles, he meets pretty Mary Buckingham (Jobyna Ralston, in the second of her six films with Lloyd), a rich socialite who is headed back home from a country outing. Mary has an unpleasant but persistent (and also rich) suitor named Ronald DeVore, but she takes a shine to Harold.

Unfortunately, Harold is laughed out of the publisher's office. Brokenhearted, and as a result still a poor apprentice, he breaks things off with Mary, who in turn gives in to Ronald's latest marriage proposal. However, the publishers change their mind and decide to publish Harold's little romance guide as a comedy book. At the same time Harold gets that good news he finds out that Mary and Ronald are getting married that very day. He then goes on an epic race to stop the wedding.


  • Acme Products: Harold and Mary bond when he has to eat Acme Dog Biscuits to keep her dog hidden.
  • Answer Cut: When Ronald the dirtbag tells his mother that Mary has agreed to marry him, Mom says "I'm sure Mary must be very happy." Cut to Mary, curled up on a couch sobbing with grief, still clutching the Crackerjack box from her magical day with Harold.
  • Baby Carriage: Harold has to suddenly swerve the horse wagon to avoid hitting a baby carriage. The baby appears to enjoy this thoroughly. This scene was one year before Trope Maker The Battleship Potemkin.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Mary plants one on Harold as the film ends.
  • Dances and Balls: Harold is too shy of girls to attend the Little Bend dance, so he watches from the outside.
  • The Flapper: One of the imaginary girls Harold describes seducing. This one of course is smoking a cigarette and dancing to jazz music.
  • Fruit Cart: As he careens through Los Angeles in a runaway streetcar, Harold collides with a farmer's cart, spilling the farmer's produce all over the street.
  • "The Graduate" Homage Shot: The iconic shot where the lover barges in to a church and shouts out to the bride down below is very strongly associated with The Graduate, which is certainly the Trope Codifier. But there's a very similar shot in this movie made 43 years before The Graduate. Harold barges into a church, specifically, onto a second-floor balcony just like Benjamin does in The Graduate, and shouts out his lover's name, just like Benjamin does in The Graduate. The main difference is there's no glass windows and in fact Harold partially descends a flight of stairs.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Harold titles his book "The Secrets of Making Love". When the publisher decides to repurpose it as a humorous book he titles it "The Boob's Diary".
  • Hero Insurance: Here are the crimes Harold commits in order to stop Mary's wedding, after he misses the train back to Los Angeles. Let's hope nobody got a good look at him (or Mary's money smooths things over).
    • grand theft auto, followed by wrecking the car
    • grand theft auto again
    • theft of a policeman's motorcycle
    • theft of a horse
    • theft of a horse-and-buggy team
    • resisting arrest (when he's chased by the Prohibition agents)
    • kidnapping (when he commandeers another driver's car)
    • theft of a trolley car
    • assault (on a servant at Mary's mansion who tries to stop him)
  • Hero Stole My Bike: A whole lot of this as Harold races to stop Mary's wedding; see Hero Insurance above.
  • Meet Cute: Harold rescues Mary's dog after it jumps off the train.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Harold sits on a rock that turns out to be the shell of a giant turtle. Giant turtles like that are seawater creatures found exclusively in the south Pacific.
  • Race for Your Love: Harold racing to stop the wedding.
  • Secret Other Family: It turns out that Ronald, Mary's other suitor, has a secret wife stashed away in Little Bend.
  • Speech Impediment / Speech-Impeded Love Interest: Harold has a stutter that comes out when he's stressed or when he's panicked by girls. In the end Mary has to blow on a mailman's whistle to snap him out of a stutter so he can propose.
  • The Vamp: One of the chapters of Harold's book is titled "My Vampire" and shows him using the "Indifference" method in order to seduce her.
  • Wedding Deadline: The last third of the film is Harold's epic race to stop Mary's wedding to Ronald. It's an extended madcap chase, except he isn't chasing anyone.
  • Women Drivers: Some guy is teaching a woman how to drive, but she's having trouble starting the car, and the stops and starts torture Harold, who thinks the car is stopping to give him a ride. When he finally hops on the back the woman gets the car stuck in a circle.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: How does Harold find out that Mary is getting married? A front-page newspaper article.