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Harold Lloyd

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myrnaloyisdope
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Harold Lloyd

Postby myrnaloyisdope » April 30th, 2009, 11:04 pm

So I've discovered the films of Harold Lloyd, by means of the Harold Lloyd Collection I purchased from amazon.co.uk. I got the UK version because it was cheaper, and has an extra film (Welcome Danger), and I am happy to say it might be the best thing I've ever purchased. My gosh, how I love this man. I'm about half way through the set, and find myself consistently entertained by virtually every gag, stunt, and pratfall. I think he may have surpassed Keaton, and Chaplin in my books.

Fundamentally I think the reason Lloyd is so consistently engaging to me is that his persona is so flexible, I had expectations of him being a wimpy, milquetoast pushover type, and was completely surprised to see him as the aloof and self-absorbed hypochondriac who viciously trumps the counter-revolutionary villains in Why Worry?. Then to see him be equally convincing and engaging as the struggling sales clerk in Safety Last!, and as the woeful and physically inept kid brother in The Kid Brother, was something of a revelation. He is not merely a great comedian, but he's also a wonderfully gifted actor.
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silentscreen
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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby silentscreen » May 1st, 2009, 6:07 am

Lloyd's movies were at one point the top grossing movies. This is explained by all you commented on,the fact that he screened all his movies before they were released to see how they could be improved, and the fact that he was so completely the ordinary, everyman looking American. American audiences had an easier time relating to him than to either Chaplin or Keaton for all their talent.
"Humor is nothing less than a sense of the fitness of things." Carole Lombard

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MichiganJ
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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby MichiganJ » May 1st, 2009, 8:59 am

While I find it pointless to compare comedians, and worse, numerically rate them (which even Kevin Brownlow does by naming his otherwise brilliant documentary: Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius), I'm in full agreement that the Harold Lloyd Collection is one of the best DVD sets out there (although I wish there were a few more Lonesome Luke shorts). The set allows you to really see the development of Lloyd's "glasses" character, and shows how Lloyd amassed his audience by doing two types of features: gag-filled (For Heaven's Sake/Hot Water/A Sailor Made Man/Why Worry?, etc), and his character driven films (The Freshman/Speedy/ Grandma's Boy, etc). For my money, his character films at least equal the features of Chaplin, with plenty of laughs along with the occasional well-earned "tear". While Safety Last is probably his most famous feature (his dangling from the clock face is at least one of the iconic images from silent film), I think The Kid Brother is his masterpiece--well, one of many.

I think because most of Lloyd's films were unavailable for so long, many silent film fans had little opportunity to assess his achievements. This set, with its beautiful transfers and scores, goes a long way in rectifying that.
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charliechaplinfan
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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby charliechaplinfan » May 1st, 2009, 2:43 pm

The British perspective :roll: I have that box set, I remember sitting watching Harold Lloyd as a young girl, I think it might just have been a clip show but the memory of his comedies stayed with me. So I bought it but I have mixed feelings. Three of his films Safety Last, Girl Crazy and The Kid Brother are truly great, the others are a mixed bunch. I can't take the character he plays in The Freshman, there are other variations, in my mind it's like the characters William Haines played in some films and he gets the same reaction. I've come to the conclusion it's something that doesn't translate as well across the pond (of course there's always exceptions). I have tried, I really want to fully appreciate, there's undoubted genius in his films but many of them for me lack the easy flow of say the Chaplin Mutuals.

I have read a lot on silent comedy so I know my opinion isn't the given opinion and he was a tremendously successful star of the silent era. I was still enthused enough to want to know more about him that I bought the Jeffrey Vance book. If you want a companion book I'd recommend that one.

As for putting silent comedians in order, it's impossible. I think it's Charlie at number one and then I watch some Buster, what more can I say :D I wonder if that is Kevin Brownlow's opinion or that in recent years more attention has been given to the works of Chaplin and Keaton and therefore it seemed the best title for the book.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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MichiganJ
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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby MichiganJ » May 1st, 2009, 3:11 pm

CCF:
Your perspective on The Freshman is interesting and perhaps it doesn't quite translate. I really like the film and the only "flaw" is that the plot and many of the gags were "borrowed" and used in so many films since, that The Freshman seems to be the film that is "unoriginal."
(Didn't you like Speedy?)

As for the rating, I still don't see how. Chaplin only released three features in the silent era (The Kid/The Gold Rush/The Circus), all masterpieces (The Circus doesn't get enough credit. It may be my favorite.) Keaton and Lloyd released quite a few more. Some classics, some not, but they each have at least three (even you list three LLoyds). I suppose we could rate by box office, but then Chaplin, with his far fewer releases would come up short (I seem to remember reading that LLoyd was on top, there.) Popularity of course is Chaplin. His image is still one of the most known around the world.

I dunno. I'll take 'em all in whatever order. Toss in Harry Langdon, too. And Arbuckle. Charley Chase....etc....)
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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby charliechaplinfan » May 1st, 2009, 5:05 pm

By box office receipts it's Harold Lloyd, no question. In Harold LLoyd's favour too, when he hits the mark with romance like in Girl Crazy and The Kid Brother, he gets it spot on. Travelling up the tree to keep seeing Jobyna and seeing her reflection in the water in Girl Crazy. He really gets me.

For sheer artistry, for me, it's Chaplin, afterall he had about four times as long as the other two and he was the monopoly on ideas. I'm glad you mentioned The Circus, it's really neglected in popular opinion and Chaplin himself never mentions it in his autobiography, I can only think this is because of the time in his life when it was made. I find it so funny, my kids can watch it from end to end and find it laugh out loud funny.

Buster Keaton, I think he's sheer genius especially when you think how quick he had to work. He wasn't as popular as the other two and wasn't his own producer so he had to occasionally take on board the ideas of others. With Buster's comedies I like the fact that there's the historic research too in films like Our Hospitality and The General. As a collective work I find Buster films appeal to me so much more than Harold LLoyd collective films.

I like to think that they did know each other reasonably well and keep an eye on one another's work. If one looks hard enough you can see gags being developed from one to the other. Perhaps that's part of what made them so great.

I'm very partial to Laurel and Hardy too, especially their silents.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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MichiganJ
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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby MichiganJ » May 1st, 2009, 5:23 pm

Well now, you've mentioned the three films that, for me, have the funniest gags in film.

The opening bit in The Circus, where Chaplin and the thief are the automatons in the fun house, makes me cry every time I see it. (The finale on the trapeze ain't half bad, either!)

The Kid Brother has the bit where the monkey is wearing the shoes, fooling the bad guys---a sound gag in a silent film. Brilliant. (The tree-climbing bit makes me tear up, in a good way.)

Our Hospitality (may be my favorite comedy of all) has to be the entire train sequence. The leisurely pace, with so many laugh-out-loud gags, it's almost musical.
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charliechaplinfan
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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby charliechaplinfan » May 2nd, 2009, 2:42 pm

I'm with you on Our Hospitality, the train ride is one of my very favorite sequences from silent comedy, it's sheer perfection.

The opening to The Circus, it's Chaplin at his slapstick best culminating with scene at the fun house. I would question a person's sense of humour if they could watch this without laughing.

The Kid Brother, Harold travelling up the tree to look at Jobyna disappearing in the distance. Harold was a good actor, he did very little in films after his comedy career ended. Harold appeals to the romantic in me, even more so in Girl Crazy

It's interesting to look at them in terms of the women in their films, Buster's women aren't prominently featured and generally are the cause of some of the trouble, I get the impression that his world would be an easier place to live in if only he didn't need a women/wife. Harold and Charlie hold a more romantic view, the women are the driving force as to why the hero acts as he does and gets in as much trouble as he seems to. Their characters are apt to moon or dream about women. It maybe something as simple as how the men themselves saw women and how happy they were in their own relationships.

I don't know how this would translate to Laurel and Hardy.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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MichiganJ
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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby MichiganJ » May 2nd, 2009, 4:49 pm

I think you are absolutely right. Keaton pretty much used his co-stars as props, didn't he. It's actually hard to name his leading ladies, and he had hardly any chemistry with them (including Natalie in Our Hospitality---and you'd think at least they would share some chemistry!). The only slightly endearing scene I can think of is in The General where Buster and Marion Mack are escaping and quickly feeding the engine with wood. When Mack hands Buster, what essentially is a tooth pick to toss in, he goes to strangle her, but instead gives her a quick kiss.

Chaplin and Lloyd have much more romance in their features. I think Lloyd shared more chemistry with Jobyna than he did with Mildred, though. In Chaplin's case, it has to be Georgia Hale, after all, he kisses her (in the Silent version of the film, at least). In their shorts, Harold and Bebe are pretty hot (well, Bebe is), and of course Chaplin and Edna....but that's another thread...
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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby charliechaplinfan » May 3rd, 2009, 2:07 pm

Buster cast Natalie because their marriage was on the rocks even then and he didn't want to parted from their son. She's pregnant again in this film, anyhow that was the end of marital relations for them, so perhaps that's why the chemistry is lacking. I do find the scenes on the train the most romantic he ever filmed and does muster some chemistry. I can't understand Natalie I think Buster was cute, more than cute in fact. The Talmadges had some funny ideas about sex and childbirth. Funnily enough I think the only thing missing from some of Buster's films is a touch of romance but some might that might have detracted from the stunts and engineering that goes into his films.

The common thing here is that Harold didn't have great chemistry with his wife to be Mildred, he was better with Bebe and well I think Jobyna was too good for him, which was the point of her being cast. She was so beautiful what was the average guy doing mooning after her. He obviously saw that and played the relationship to perfection in Girl Crazy. I don't think Jobyna had much of career outside of Harold Lloyd's films, she was in Wings but didn't get much screen time, a pity, I'd liked to have seen more of her.

Charlie and Edna are tops for me in terms of chemistry. After that for me it's Paulette, then Georgia but there isn't much in it. I read Georgia's book not long ago, she idolised him. I'm quite sure he was like catnip for some women but not Virginia Cherrill, she was saving herself for Cary Grant.

It's no secret that Harold and Buster thought Charlie was the master. I wish the scene in Limelight with Buster and Charlie was longer.

Have you seen any Arbuckle or Harry Langdon? I quite liked Roscoe Arbuckle, I think the only ones released are the ones with Buster Keaton. I liked The Strong Man but wasn't as keen on Tramp Tramp Tramp. I'd love to see a decent release of some Mabel Normand.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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MichiganJ
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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby MichiganJ » May 3rd, 2009, 3:53 pm

I like the sequence in Limelight, too, I just wish there were more two shots. The sequence is made up, mostly, of close ups of one or the other. I'd liked to have seen them react more to each other.

There's no question that Lloyd thought Chaplin was a genius. LLoyd's Lonesome Luke is one of the many "Tramp" imitators. I'm sure Keaton felt the same way about Chaplin, but his comedies are quite different than Chaplin's. In the same way that Keaton could never make The Immigrant (my favorite Chaplin short), Chaplin couldn't have done One Week (my favorite Keaton short). And now, with the release of the LLoyd set, we can see that neither Keaton nor Chaplin could have made High and Dizzy (which reminds me of a Popeye cartoon I remember seeing as a kid). It's great having all three, no?

I have The Forgotten Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle DVD set and it is a marvel. His shorts are so frenetic, and he is so...BIG...yet he's also as graceful as Chaplin (and that's not an exaggeration, Arbuckle was really graceful. In one of the shorts he actually does the "dance with the rolls", too!). His shorts with Mabel Normand are wonderful. Sure, it's funny seeing the dainty and tiny Normand with the huge Arbuckle, but the two really do share a chemistry and it works quite well in their films together. As for Normand herself, the only official release of a feature, I think, is Kino's The Extra Girl, which, despite being made by Sennett, is more of a melodrama with comedic overtones than a straight-on comedy.

I think Harry Langdon is brilliant. His comedy is so unlike any other. His minimalism knows no bounds. The time he takes to react to everything is extraordinary. And when one thinks that he entered film when the "big three" were already doing their features (Langdon did, basically, a year of shorts and then went into features), his output of quality work is exceptional. The Strong Man is his masterpiece, but all of his features have at least one or two sequence of comedic brilliance. Interestingly, Langdon admired Chaplin probably more than Keaton or Lloyd. He, too, wanted to get some pathos into his comedies. In Landon's directorial debut, Three's a Crowd, he actually errs on the side of too much pathos, and forgets the comedy. It's a pretty great, "flawed" film, which is coupled with The Chaser on the Kino DVD. The Chaser, another comedy which centers on suicide, is laugh-out-loud funny. (I've been watching the Fairbanks comedies, and at least two of them have suicide as their theme).

This is my review of The Extra Girl
http://digitalsilents.com/Digital_Silents/The_Extra_Girl.html

And the Langdon page
http://digitalsilents.com/Digital_Silents/Harry_Langdon.html
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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby bdp » May 3rd, 2009, 7:30 pm

MichiganJ wrote: In their shorts, Harold and Bebe are pretty hot


I bet Bebe in her shorts would be pretty hot... :twisted:


The more I see of Langdon the less I am able to rate him; The Strong Man is great, Three's A Crowd is an unmitigated disaster, and the rest fall indifferently between. *shrugs*

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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby charliechaplinfan » May 4th, 2009, 9:45 am

I wholeheartedly agree that we are lucky to have had all three. My tendency is to square the triangle to include Laurel and Hardy or perhaps in terms of creation of gags, Stan Laurel. The more I see of their silent work, the more my opinion of both of them rises. Their work spanned both silents and talkies, they did some splendid talkies, The Music Box and Sons of the Desert spring to mind. It is their silents that bear comparison. For me they are more laugh out loud funny than the 'three'. I think this comes down to reactions (like you said with Limelight, I would have liked to have seen more) between them. Stan being silly or stupid is mildly funny but it can reach the heights of hilarity when Ollie has reacted. The strength of their partnership and it's adaptibility to sound carried them forward into talkies.

It would have been lovely to have seen more reactions in that scene in Limelight, I found it bearly whetted my appetite for what could have been but I remain glad that these two greats could get together. Chaplin is the senior partner, Buster was on record as saying he would have done it for nothing. What were Charlie's motives in casting him? The cache of his name? I don't think Chaplin needed that. Did he feel sorry for Buster's reduced circumstances and want to give him work? I don't think it was in his nature. Did he recognise talent? I like to think that this was most plausible.

Chaplin is on record complimenting Grandma's Boy which was Harold's first feature. One can only think that Harold must have been very pleased.

The Immigrant is my favorite Chaplin short, my favorite comedy short, it's perfection. Haven't settled on a Buster short but I like One Week a lot.

I read your review of The Extra Girl with interest. My only acquaintance with Mabel was through Tillie's Punctured Romance, a terrible copy but it gave me the impression that she was much much more than a pretty face. It's a pity more of her work isn't available.

I have seen Roscoe Arbuckle's dance of the rolls, I think the best Arbuckle short that I've seen is Coney Island, it has touches of real genius, of course, Buster smiles which sets it apart for me too.

Harry Langdon, I liked The Strong Man, didn't find Tramp Tramp Tramp that good. I remain on the fence as to whether I should investigate further.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby Ann Harding » May 4th, 2009, 10:50 am

I have recently discovered Harold Lloyd. I am still a bit undecided about him. I thought The Kid Brother was a cute picture some really nice gags. I watched Safety Last! as well. Really nicely done again. But, I don't know, I haven't felt the same kind of violent emotion I felt watching a Chaplin (The Kid gets me each time I watch it) or the awe I felt when I first saw Keaton in The General. Perhaps, I should persevere with Girl Shy?

(Charliechaplinfan, you called it Girl Crazy and I searched for that film on Lloyd's filmography before realising it was a Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland feature! :lol: )

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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby bdp » May 4th, 2009, 11:19 am

I loved Girl Shy, but I did think that the chase at the end went on for too long.


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