Film of the Week: The Freshman

Before Jean-Paul Belmondo’s iconic role as the Bogart-esque swaggering Michele, there was Harold Lloyd as Harold Lamb, another man who found cinema to be a world that corresponded with his desires. A bumbling fool and underdog , The Freshman centers on Lamb’s first year at Tate University and his attempts to become popular by modeling himself after the fictional movie character of “Speedy.” Lamb becomes Speedy down to his mannerisms, even going as far as copying Speedy’s asinine introductory tap-dance, his methods end up working for all the wrong reasons. Lamb becomes popular  not because his moves make him effervescently cool, but because he makes himself appear an ass, which of course he doesn’t realize. Lloyd balances between being pathetic enough to sympathize with and ridiculous enough to be laughed at. His actions—whether attempting to impress a girl at a dance or the boys on the football team—ring with a sincerity that makes Lloyd in on the joke as much as audiences are. A sense of dread but also wonder follows Lloyd as scenes slowly build up into a new misunderstanding for the character to fall into. A heartfelt comedy in the vein of classical silent cinema.

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