Fearless Harry (1926)
Article 5578 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Albert Herman
Featuring Earl McCarthy, Charlotte Merriam, John J. Richardson
What it is: Slapstick silent short
Can Hairbreadth Harry rescue Beautiful Belinda from the clutches of that villain Relentless Rudolph?
This was apparently the first of 11 shorts based on a comic strip that appeared to be a parody of the mellerdrammer genre – dashing hero, beautiful girl, slimy villain. Oddly enough, the fantastic content here isn’t the secret formula the villain is after, largely because the movie doesn’t specify in any way what the secret formula is for. Instead, the fantastic content is that the villain brings the girl to his hideout, a horror house, and the hero has to contend with things like a living mummy and live skeletons. For a fleeting second, I thought the black manservant was going to be spared having to act out the usual stereotypes of the era, but that changes once he encounters the skeleton. As for the rest of the movie, the villain yells “Curses!” a lot, and is easily funnier than the bland hero. I’d have to say that as far as silent shorts go, this is about average; I’ve seen better and I’ve seen worse.