“Daybreak stings the boy with the realization that he is helpless, hopeless and useless — a weakling.”
A cowardly nebbish (Harold Lloyd) is assisted by his feisty grandma (Anna Townsend) in gaining the courage to pursue a murderous tramp (Dick Sutherland), and fight against his lifelong rival (Charles Stevenson) for the hand of his sweetheart (Mildred Davis).
Harold Lloyd’s first full-length film holds up surprisingly well today. In addition to plenty of amusing sight gags, it possesses a cohesive narrative, a sympathetic protagonist, and a refreshing character arc, as “Grandma’s boy” shifts from a simpering ninny to a self-confident young man worthy of our admiration. Apparently Charlie Chaplin was a fan of this film, noting, “It is one of the best constructed screenplays I have ever seen on the screen.”
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Anna Townsend as Lloyd’s concerned grandma
- The amusing Civil War “flashback” scene
- Clever inter-titles: “One of those slow towns where the Tuesday morning Express arrives Wednesday afternoon. If Monday’s train gets out of the way.”
Yes. While not as famous as either Safety Last! (1923) or The Freshman (1925), this holds interest as Lloyd’s first full-length film. Listed as a film with Historical Importance and as a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.