Movie Crazy is a 1932 film directed by Clyde Bruckman and an uncredited Harold Lloyd, starring Harold Lloyd.note
Harold Hall (Lloyd) is a young man somewhere in Flyover Country with dreams of stardom, despite having no obvious acting talent. When he accidentally puts a picture of a much handsomer man in his application letter, he is invited to Los Angeles for a screen test.
Before his screen test, he is grabbed for work as an extra in a movie scene, and meets an exotically beautiful Spanish actress. After bumbling his way through the screen test he meets Mary Sears, a lovely blonde (Constance Cummings) who is a big star for the movie studio that gave Harold an audition. What Harold doesn't pick up on is that Mary Sears and the Spanish actress are actually the same person—Mary was in makeup and costume for a part. Meanwhile, Harold's quest for film stardom leads to a series of comic misadventures.
Probably the best Harold Lloyd talking film.
- Affectionate Nickname: Harold's incredible ability to cause chaos leads to Mary affectionately calling him "Trouble".
- Ambiguously Gay: The Eek, a Mouse!! scene ends with a man standing on a chair reacting with stereotypical feminine horror to the presence of mice.
- All Part of the Show: Harold is knocked out by Vance and chucked into a wicker basket—which is taken onto the film set. Harold comes to during filming, and, because he doesn't know it's a film, attacks Vance for real. A knock-down, drag-out fight ensues, which the befuddled crew films on the assumption that it's part of the movie. This winds up getting Harold a film contract when an executive visiting the set is amused by his antics.
- Bad "Bad Acting": Harold's epically awful acting when given his screen test.
- Brick Joke: Harold receives the letter inviting him to Hollywood, and leaps out of his car with joy. He doesn't engage the parking brake, and the car starts to visibly roll. A long conversation ensues, punctuated by the sound of a crash as Harold's car rolls into another car on the other side of the street.
- Brownface: In-Universe, Mary is made up this way for her movie part (which rather looks like a Hot Gypsy Woman).
- Chekhov's Gun: When the director of Mary's film carefully instructs the crew on how to release the water to flood the ship, it's not hard to figure out that it will become relevant to the climax.
- Circling Birdies: Vance whacks Harold over the head with a wooden box that contains a bunch of baby chicks. The shot of a dazed Harold as the chicks are chirping evokes this trope.
- Comically Missing the Point: Vance the actor is pestered by Harold, who eventually asks for an autograph. Vance signs it "Will U. Scram", whereupon Harold says "Thank you, Mr. Scram!"
- Cute Clumsy Girl: A Gender Flip. Harold's guileless nature combined with his innate ability to destroy everything he touches—the first time they meet when she's out of character, he wrecks her convertible top—leads Mary to fall in love with him, against her better instincts.
- Dodgy Toupee: One of the doves Harold lets loose at the fancy nightclub knocks off a man's toupee.
- Eek, a Mouse!!: The long comic sequence with Harold and the magician's coat ends when Harold accidentally lets loose a box of mice, causing mass panic on the dance floor.
- Epic Tracking Shot: Some ambitious camera work for a 1930s comedy, including a shot that starts out as a tracking shot as Harold leaves the train, moves without a cut to a crane shot as it swoops over a crowd, and then goes back to a tracking shot without a cut as the camera zooms in on Mary in Spanish makeup performing a scene.
- How Do I Shot Web?: A variant. The most famous sequence in the film comes when Harold accidentally puts on a magician's coat in the bathroom of a fancy nightclub. Chaos ensues as Harold has to deal with the doves, rabbits, and mice coming out of the coat, as well as stuff like the flower in the lapel that unpredictably shoots water.
- If I Can't Have You...: Vance, who formerly came across as Mary's rather pathetic reject, is revealed to be violently possessive."If I can't have her, no one can. I'd kill her first."
- Internal Reveal: About 40 minutes in it's revealed that Mary and the Spanish actress are the same person, but Harold doesn't find out until quite a bit later.
- Meet Cute: Harold manages to do this two different times with Mary. When she's in costume as her Spanish character, he gets roped in as an extra in her movie, and he manages to ruin the scene. Then he meets her again when she's out of costume, and proceeds to wreck the top of her convertible.
- Mythology Gag: The climactic fight sequence in the Show Within a Show is staged to look very much like the climactic fight sequence aboard 1927 Lloyd film The Kid Brother. Both are set on a derelict ship. The Mook in this movie is dressed to look just like the Mook Harold fights in that film. The climax of the fight takes place in the flooded hold of the ship, just as it did in The Kid Brother.
- Real Vehicle Reveal: The first scene is shot so that it appears Harold is riding in the back of a fancy convertible. Then the convertible moves on, and Harold is revealed to actually be on a bicycle.
- Reed Snorkel: Harold uses a funnel in this manner during his fight with Vance on the flooded film set.
- Secret Test of Character: A rather unfair one administered to Harold by Mary. The two of them pledge their love, and Mary asks Harold to retrieve the class pin that he gave to the Spanish actress. When he meets her again when she's in costume as the Spaniard, Spanish Mary demands that he kiss her in return for the pin. Finally he caves and kisses her, whereupon she refuses to give him a pin. Harold gets a substitute pen from an old class friend. When he tries to give it to Mary, she breaks up with him.
- Sexy Backless Outfit: The starlet who plays a love scene opposite Harold for his screen test is dressed this way.
- Show Within a Show: Mary and Vance are starring in some kind of melodrama in which she plays a Spanish woman with a thick accent.
- Two-Person Love Triangle: Mary kind of messes with Harold for a while, especially when she strong-arms him into kissing her while she is in costume as the Spanish temptress.