Hard Luck was Buster's personal
favorite of his own silent shorts, not because he thought it better than
the rest but because the film contained the greatest laugh-getting
sequence of any of his pictures. The film itself was considered
lost for more than sixty years until it was partially reconstructed from
extant footage acquired by Raymond Rohauer and assembled by Kevin
Brownlow and David Gill in 1987.
In the film, Buster loses his job and his
girl. Down on his luck, he tries to commit suicide. All of
his inept attempts to do away with himself meet with failure.
These hilarious suicide-attempt gags are similar to those
Harold Lloyd did in his comedy shorts Haunted Spooks (1920) and
Weaken (1921). The second half of the film finds buster hired
by the local zoo to capture the one animal they do not have: an
armadillo. Needless to say, he fails, and he is also unsuccessful
as a fisherman and horseman.
The aforementioned hilarious sequence comes
at the end: rejected by Virginia Fox, Buster climbs up to the
high-diving platform of an open-air swimming pool. On the platform
he poses and struts for the benefit of the girls lounging around the
pool. He then performs a great swan dive and misses the pool
completely. Landing on the cement walk next to the pool, he leaves
a large hole in the pavement. The scene fades and is followed by a
title, "Years later." The scene fades back to the abandoned pool,
the hole still visible. buster emerges from it, dressed in
Oriental clothes, followed by his Chinese wife and two children.
Unfortunately, this sequence was not among the footage uncovered for the
film's reconstruction, and only still photographs from the scene are
known to exist.