On 26 October Christian Schumann conducted the Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León in Carl Davis’ score to Harold Lloyd silent The Kid Brother in Valladolid. The 1927 silent comedy is recognised as one of Lloyd’s finest movies, and stars him alongside regular collaborator Jobyna Ralston; it was directed by Ted Wilde and Lewis Milestone.
The story is set in rural America, with Lloyd playing the timid youngest son of the local sheriff. A crooked medicine show arrives in town, exploited by the sheriff's enemies to cause riot and mayhem. It is up to the kid brother to save the day, win the love of the girl in peril - and the respect of his father and brothers.
Davis’ 82-minute soundtrack is scored for single woodwinds and brass, piano doubling celesta, percussion, and a small string section. He evokes the rural setting through various traditional American folk idioms and melodies in his score, which also reproduces the playful style and smaller scale of orchestral accompaniment that would have been characteristic of many such films from the era.
The music for The Kid Brother was composed the newly-restored version of the film in 1992, now available on DVD as part of the Criterion Collection. Davis himself conducted the score on numerous occasions, including at the Disney Institute for the American Film Institute, at Sadler’s Wells in London, and, most recently, in 2017 with the Orchestre National de Lyon.
The composer has also created scores for other Lloyd classics including Safety Last! – which has seen several centenary screenings this year accompanied by Davis’ music – as well as An Eastern Westerner, High and Dizzy, and The Freshman.
On 15 October Davis’ daughter Jessie took part in a Q&A session about the late composer at The Garden Cinema, London, alongside screenings of three Chaplin classics with music by Davis: The Immigrant, The Cure, and Behind The Screen.