The movie comic genius of Harold Lloyd is presented. The majority of this documentary shows scenes if not almost complete movies in some instances of Lloyd's, those clips grouped together by themes omnipresent in comedies, such as surprise, satire and situation. One segment is devoted to Lloyd's later movies, a type which many of his contemporaries were unable to move into, namely the talkies. Another special sequence is devoted to the fact that Lloyd did most of his own stunts, those taking place high above street level done without trick photography and before safety measures were put into place within the industry.Written by
OF ALL THE "Big Three" of the silents screen comedians, it seems that we know less about Harold Lloyd's work than about the others; being Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. This is somewhat ironic; inasmuch that our older "Big" sister, the late Joanne Ryan (1942-90), had the pleasure of meeting him. It was while doing a Summer job while in college. Joanne worked for the Shriner's Hospitals, right here in Chicago and Mr. Lloyd was then the head of the Shrine. (So much for our little bit of "bragging."
OUR FAMILIARITY WITH Lloyd's work has been steadily improving, though, and with our thanx to TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES, it's expansion has recently substantially accelerated. This past week TCM ran a series of Lloyd's shorts and features both silents and talkies alike. Added to the brew was this anthology HAROLD LLOYD'S WORLD OF COMEDY, just for good measure.
BEING THAT IT is a sort of overview of a career, it is done with excerpts from various titles and linked together with some helpful narration. Starting with the premise that your audience (or a substantial portion there of) have little or no knowledge about the subject matter, the resulting picture is a sort of primer.
THE FORMAT THAT was followed is fundamentally the same as had been become very popular in the late 1950's with releases such as THE GOLDEN AGE OF COMEDY, WHEN COMEDY WAS KING and LAUREL & HARDY'S LAUGHING 20's. These were produced by Robert Youngson, but there were others, also.
WE DID ENJOY our screening and recommend it to anyone. But e do see some deficiencies in its construction and content. While Lloyd's best moments on screen were during the mid to late 1920's silent period, there seems to be an inordinate length of time devoted to his sound features of the 1930's and '40's. Footage from PROFESSOR BEWARE and THE SIN OF HAROLD DIDDLEBOCK (MAD Wednesday) is shown in a heavy dosage. (Perhaps it was the intent to remind us that Lloyd was also a comedian of the sound era).
BUT IN STARK contrast to the above stated theory, an early sequence from PROFESSOR BEWARE (1938) is presented as if it were a silent. It is the one that features Mr. Lloyd, Raymond Walburn and Lionel Stander as hobos running on the top of a train in avoiding a burning tunnel.
ANOTHER EXCERPT WHICH is exemplary as a specimen of the "Thrill Comedy" genre is also from a talking picture (title unknown to this writer). The bit in question features an older version of Lloyd "glasses" character scaling what looks like the same building used in SAFETY LAST (1923). Although the gags are easily as rigorous as those in the earlier (silent), it was somehow much less humorous.
BUT THERE WAS no doubt that Lloyd was even then an outstanding gymnast as his non-doubled performance proved.
LASTLY, IN MUCH the same manner as the other "Silent Clowns" voices proved to be annoying and overkill for them when their acting abilities were transposed to the talkies, so it was with Lloyd. He went the same way as Keaton and Chaplin; who apparently became quite enamored with hi own dulcet tones.
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