Released 12 October 1929, Welcome Danger was the great Harold Lloyd’s first talkie. A silent version also made, for the many theatres not yet wired for sound.
While I’d give this film a solid 4 stars, it needed to be trimmed down a lot. There’s no reason this story needed to run almost two hours!
Botany student Harold Bledsoe is travelling home to San Francisco when he makes the acquaintance of Billie Lee (Barbara Kent). During a stop in Newbury, Colorado, Harold finds a double-exposed photo of the two of them, from a malfunctioning photo booth. He becomes smitten with Billie, little realising she’s the same woman who presently bangs him with a door.
There’s mechanical trouble soon after the train gets back on the road, and Harold is left behind thanks to fooling around with flowers. He then comes across Billie and her little brother Buddy, who are having car trouble. Harold is very annoyed with Billie’s incompetence, and thinks she’s a man because of her name and clothes.
Their carburetor accidentally drives off with someone who stopped to refuel them, and there’s more car trouble. They have no choice but to camp out for the night. Once again, Billie drives Harold up the wall.
Harold is stunned to finally discover Billie’s true sex when she emerges from the tent wearing a dress, her hair uncovered. He runs away in mortification, remembering how he kicked her. However, they’re soon reconciled.
Their romance isn’t long-lived, since very soon another train arrives and they must go their separate ways. After he boards the train, Harold realises he never got Billie’s surname or address.
In San Francisco, Harold is invited to work at the police station, and impresses Captain Walton (William Walling) on his first day by stopping a stickup in its tracks. He’s immediately fascinated by the forensic science of fingerprinting, and decides to fingerprint the entire station.
The other guys don’t exactly share his passion.
To get rid of Harold, the police send him on a dangerous mission to Chinatown, with the objective of catching criminal lord The Dragon.
Soon after he arrives in Chinatown, Harold happily makes the reacquaintance of Billie and causes a huge traffic jam when he jumps into her car. A cop, Patrick Clancy (awesome character actor Noah Young), chews him out, and follows him after he finally gets out of the car. During the attempted arrest, another guy knocks Clancy unconscious and makes off with his gun.
Harold, determined to help Clancy, runs after the miscreant and knocks out everyone in the building. All Chinese look alike to him, so he has no idea who the guilty party is.
Clancy is very impressed by his heroism, and changes his tune even more upon finding out his identity.
Harold buys a pot of flowers for Billie and roller-skates for Buddy. When he arrives, the famous Dr. Chang Gow (James Wang) is also there, and says his operation on Buddy’s leg has a very good chance of success.
Dr. Gow accidentally knocks over the flowerpot on his way out, revealing a little packet of opium. Harold tells him where he got the flowers, and says he stole it because the florists wouldn’t sell it.
Dr. Gow goes to confront the criminals, whom he previously voiced grave concerns about to the police, and is promptly kidnapped. While Harold is stammering his way through an attempted marriage proposal that night, the radio announces Dr. Gow was kidnapped.
Feeling Dr. Gow is the only chance to save Buddy’s leg, Harold rushes over there to try to rescue him. He soon runs across Clancy, who joins his dangerous mission.
Will they be able to rescue Dr. Gow in time?