From Hand to Mouth plays like half a dozen Chaplin shorts, and you may suspect Lloyd was borrowing from Chaplin in this film when he begins the film teamed with a cute little girl and a dog. Of course, in many ways Lloyd was borrowing from Chaplin - aside from possibly Buster Keaton, who wasn't borrowing from Chaplin in 1919? The dog may come straight from Chaplin's A Dog's Life; however, Lloyd's use of a young child as a sidekick predates Chaplin's feature THE KID by two years. Likewise, a sequence in which Harold is chased by multiple cops may also remind fans of Buster Keaton's classic two-reeler Cops, but that great Keaton film was three years into the future. All of this suggests to me that Lloyd, almost always considered the "third" great genius of silent comedy, may have been more influential on Chaplin and Keaton than most film historians will admit.
From Hand to Mouth is the perfect short in making comparisons among the three great silent comedians. Lloyd may begin the film with a child and a dog, but by the midpoint of reel one, they have vanished as Lloyd develops other business and only show up again in the final moments. Chaplin would take the idea of pairing the tramp with a child and turn it into one of his finest features, and the boy, young Jackie Coogan, would be in almost every frame of the film. Lloyd may round up a dozen or so cops to chase him in order to lead them to a kidnapped Mildred Davis (in her first film for Lloyd), but Buster would turn this idea on its head and turn it into one of his most famous comic nightmares, as he is chased by hundreds of cops for a transgression that wasn't his fault.
While From Hand to Mouthmight
remind you of better comedies from other comedians, on its own,
it is a pretty good Lloyd film, and like most Lloyd films, its
strongest point is that it moves. Constantly. Over dozens
and dozens of films such as this one, Lloyd experimented, tweaked and
perfected the mechanics of his comedy so that by the time he moved
into into features, he was able to produce perfect gems like SAFETY LAST, WHY WORRY? and THE KID BROTHER. - JB