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Harold Lloyd

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movieman1957
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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby movieman1957 » May 6th, 2009, 3:33 pm

As fate would have it our friend at Greenbriar has a write up on Lloyd. Also, somewherre back in there he has written about Langdon as well. I don't know much about him except he was very popular and fell out of favor and then went away. I have seen him in "Zenobia" and there is a small part of one of Robert Youngson's films that shows some of his work but after that there's almost nothing.

http://greenbriarpictureshows.blogspot.com/

Type Harry Langdon in the search and scroll down the page.
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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby Gagman 66 » May 6th, 2009, 4:14 pm

Kevin,

:shock: Well, we will have to agree to disagree here. I haven't seen THREE'S A CROWD and THE CHASER yet. But Harry Langdon is a really tough sell for me. I found LONG PANTS completely Preposterous. Couldn't believe what I was seeing when Harry's character actually plots to Murder his girlfriend, so He can run off with that Gun-Molly, who is a dope peddler! What the devil! I'm not sure Langdon is even forth in line. Based of what I have seen of Raymond Griffith, I find him significantly funnier than Langdon. I like THE STRONG MAN, but I haven't seen TRAMP, TRAMP, TRAMP, in a long, long time, and I didn't care for it much when I had seen it. Charley Case doesn't get talked about much, since he made almost no features. And Poor Fatty Arbuckle. Both of them have way more appeal than Langdon to me. And no one talks about the lady comic's. Marie Prevost for instance, had to be one of the naturally funniest Women that ever lived! Just her walking on camera is funny. :lol:

I will admit that Langdon was pretty much playing the same charter on the Vaudeville circuit for years prior to ever making a movie. So Capra's claim that He and Art Ripley invented the character is absurd. :|

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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby charliechaplinfan » May 7th, 2009, 8:31 am

MichiganJ wrote:gagman wrote:
And people listened to Walter Kerr in the 70's when THE SILENT CLOWNS was published. Basically He was a Keaton fanatic, and paid little attention to Lloyd assigning H L only three chapters in his book. Which is very sad. To me, Lloyd's 11 Silent features of 1921-1928, are more than a match for Keaton's, and probably are more consistent in quality from film to film.

I'm in total agreement about Kerr and his book. Unfortunately it's still looked on as THE resource for silent film comedy. While he gives substantially less room to Lloyd than he does Chaplin and Keaton (I wonder if it was because LLoyd's films were harder to see?), Kerr does far worse to (my beloved) Langdon. Kerr perpetuates Frank Capra's bold faced lie (found in Capra's dubious memoir) that it was Capra who developed Langdon's character. For better or worse, Langdon had his character honed long before Capra got behind the lens of a camera. Yes, Capra directed Langdon's masterpiece The Strong Man, but it was Langdon who helped Capra get the job (and it's likely that Langdon co-directed, just as the other big three).

Kerr's book needs to be taken with a big grain of salt.


I like Walter Kerr's book, I found it easy to read and informative. Yet I take your point, I probably like it so much because he does give so much time to my too favorites, Charlie and Buster. I admit I could read book and books on both of them and never get bored. Is Harold Lloyd's reduced role in the book due to the fact that Harold himself kept tight hold of his films and hadn't decided to rerelease them? Charlie also kept hold of his films and I think some of them hadn't been seen for years. Especially The Circus which is a beautiful, funny film. Buster's films weren't owned by him, he thought they had perished, I think, might be wrong here that they were found in his old house and restored and brought back to the public again. In the time of Walter Kerr's writing Keaton's films would have been better known.

I didn't like Walter Kerr's treatment of Harry Langdon. I suppose he'd just taken what Frank Capra said and run with it as truth. I've heard this said by others. If it's not true I wish the reocrd would be set straight.

Jeffrey, I love Seven Chances, Buster waking up in the church and the ensuing chase, it's wonderful. How can you not appreciate The General? It's a work of craftmanship, so well researched, contains the most expensive scene in silent film, I just find it awe inspiring. I also find it so difficult to belive that the man who could make such a masterpiece would go through his own personal hell within 5 years of this. Dear Buster, I always wish someone had stepped in and rescued him at that moment and he could have carried on making brilliant films. Thank heavens for Eleanor.

Re Harry Langdon, he's not altogether my taste but he does have a steady fan base, with very devoted and protective fans. He must have been good, you don't get those kind of fans if you're not.
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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby MichiganJ » May 7th, 2009, 9:11 am

Jeffrey,

I think you are pretty much proving my earlier point that it is nearly impossible to "rate" the silent comedians. I suppose the big three have rightly earned their places (which ever order you want to put them), but when you get to number four, then what? Despite being exonerated of all alleged crimes, Arbuckle's career and reputation is still ruined. After seeing his feature Leap Year, a film shot before the "scandal" but only released overseas, Arbuckle was altering his slapstick persona and creating one like he used in this wonderful bedroom farce. Who knows what levels of comedic excellence he could have achieved?

I've only seen Charley Chase in shorts, and while I love him in them, I have no sense how he would translate to features.

What about Max Linder? Even Chaplin admitted Linder was a big influence (in Hollywood, they lived next door to each other). His Seven Years Bad Luck (which includes the mirror scene "borrowed" by the Marx Brothers) is terrific and I actually wonder what Fairbanks thought of The Three-Must-Get-Theres (featuring Jobyna Ralston as Constance).

CCF

I know that Chaplin re-edited his film in the early 70's (altering some, like The Kid, significantly), so these may have been available for Kerr to review. I do think that because LLoyd kept his films from the public for so long is one of the main reasons he's not more well known, and therefore underappreciated.

As for Langdon/Capra--with the release of the All Day Entertainment set The Harry Langdon Collection: Lost and Found, you can plainly see in Langdon's early shorts that his character is firmly established. Capra didn't even enter the picture until a year or so later.
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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby bdp » May 7th, 2009, 10:27 am

Kerr did NOT take Capra at his word and says as much - his book is an essay on the content of the films, his analysis of Langdon is based on what's in the films. Subjective interpretation, which everyone is free to disagree with, however I find his analysis to be spot on even if he doesn't remember details of many films accurately.

I'd say he writes less on Lloyd simply because he doesn't find his films as complex and therefore doesn't have as much to analyze - also Chaplin and Keaton got an extra chapter by virtue of having made an 'epic' comedy each, which Lloyd never attempted.

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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby MichiganJ » May 7th, 2009, 10:47 am

Kerr plainly says in his second chapter on Langdon that, "Capra is given principal credit, correctly, I'm sure, for ultimately shaping Langdon's style....", etc.

While Kerr is a defender (supporter?) of Langdon, he still makes the claim that Capra was responsible for Langdon's cinematic success, and I still think, that, even though Capra directed two of Langdon's best films, Langdon, and not Capra had more to do with the creation of Langdon's character.
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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby charliechaplinfan » May 7th, 2009, 1:51 pm

I suppose from this that Capra is responsible for taking the credit for Harry Langdon. I find it sad because he's done so much and contributed so widely to American cinema that why take complete credit for a performer who we know now, and Capra must have known was responsible for his own screen creation. It only weighs badly on Capra in my book.

I hadn't thought of The Silent Clowns in terms of the masterpieces that Chaplin and Keaton created. When it comes to Chaplin, a connosieur who chose The Gold Rush whereas I love City Lights. I think most of Chaplin's silent features are masterpieces though.

I do know of Chaplin's editing. It is frustrating, sometimes I'm not sure which one I'm watching. The silent Gold Rush is infinitely better than the narrated version. I can see why he added narration, to update his work for new audiences. He took a bit of the magic away from The Gold Rush by doing this. One film I do like the updated version of is The Pilgrim, it has a country and western tume at the beginning of it. I've watched it now so many times I know it inside out.

Which one of Harold's work would be a masterpiece for you, which what would it be. I'd have to say Safety Last.

There has been a recent book on the silent clowns by Paul Merton to coincide with a series he did for BBC4, he is more evenhanded but I suspect his preference is still for Chaplin and Keaton.
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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby bdp » May 7th, 2009, 2:07 pm

But given Three's A Crowd Langdon had no clue of how to create an effective context FOR his character - I don't say Capra alone did that, there was a specific team in place, but Kerr does evaluate the films on their own merits, of which Three's A Crowd has none and it was all Langdon's.

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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby MichiganJ » May 7th, 2009, 3:44 pm

With all due respect, the fact that Three's a Crowd was a bomb doesn't mean Langdon didn't know his character. Keaton's The General wasn't a hit either, but does that mean Keaton didn't know his character? Langdon may have been over his head in making Three's a Crowd, but his character is certainly there. Just watch the last sequence where he wants to throw the rock through the Fortune Teller's window. A little, too late, maybe, but pure Langdon. Langdon's character is present throughout Three's a Crowd, he's just not funny. I hate to defend Langdon at the expense of anyone, but after Keaton's "flop" of The General, Keaton retreated to the relatively safe College, a good film (but quite derivative of LLoyd's The Freshman--without the sentiment!), while Langdon went on to helm The Chaser, which, if nothing else, is far more ambitious than College. And it is pure Langdon, sans Capra. (By the way, where is Capra during all this? His hits aren't coming either.)

If Capra deserves principle credit for shaping Langdon's style, how do you account for all the films before Capra was even there? Kerr seems to suggest that Langdon's character was "mostly" there, but it was Capra and his team that saw all of the potential. This just isn't true. Langdon's character was nearly complete in his first film.

In Capra's autobiography, he basically claims to having discovered Langdon, but the truth is just the opposite. Langdon chose Capra to helm The Strong Man as Capra's directorial debut. Langdon was already a proven star. Capra was a gagman. Kerr's book, by virtue of being the only book (that I know of at least) on The Silent Clowns, perpetuates Capra's myth, and, Langdon is forever considered a Capra creation. Pure Capra-corn is what it is.
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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby bdp » May 7th, 2009, 4:09 pm

Langdon's early films are as mediocre as any Sennett short, and Harry not much different in appearance from any other Sennett comedian. THE TEAM - Carpa, Ripley, Edwards, Langdon - was the winning combination. Period. And besides, The General is a great film, and Three's A Crowd sucks.
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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby MichiganJ » May 7th, 2009, 4:11 pm

ccf wrote:
I do know of Chaplin's editing. It is frustrating, sometimes I'm not sure which one I'm watching. The silent Gold Rush is infinitely better than the narrated version.

I'm with you completely on silent version of The Gold Rush. It's interesting how Chaplin changes the contents of the note Georgia writes (which is to Jack in the silent version, but goes right to Charlie in the 1942 version). The kiss-less fade out in the '42 version is interesting, too. I quite hate the narration. I feel like Charlie's "reading" the movie to me. Drives me crazy.

The re-editing of The Kid is also fascinating. In the original, it is implied that Edna and her husband (boyfriend?) get back together, but the '72 version has that gone completely. That makes the film's ending when Charlie is invited into Edna's house quite different, doesn't it?
Which one of Harold's work would be a masterpiece for you, which what would it be. I'd have to say Safety Last.


Lloyd's masterpieces? Wow tall order! It might be easier to list the films I think are merely "great" (I love Lloyd).

But here goes (in no particular order)

The Freshman--a victim of its own success as the plot has been used so many times since (and I remember that it didn't necessarily translate well for you), but Lloyd's is still one of the best "last-minute touchdown" comedies out there.

Girl Shy--okay, so the chase ending overpowers everything else, it's a brilliant sequence (and the rest of the film ain't bad either)

Safety Last--this film always impressed me, but when I learned that the climbing sequence was filmed before they even had a story to put with it...the mind boggles (I think the story works great)

Speedy--Like his other "gag" films, Speedy is pretty much three shorts, with only the barest plot line. But it has Babe Ruth as a straight man!, a trip to Coney Island (with rides, games, food...and Lloyd flying the "bird" at his mirrored image!), and a great race-to-the-rescue through Manhattan.

The Kid Brother--my personal favorite, we've already discussed why (Jobyna, the monkey with shoes, etc.)
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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby MichiganJ » May 7th, 2009, 4:18 pm

Langdon's early films are as mediocre as any Sennett short, and Harry not much different in appearance from any other Sennett comedian.

You are right, I'm wrong. Mea culpa. Sennet was certainly the studio for minimalistic comedies. They thrived on them.
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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby charliechaplinfan » May 7th, 2009, 4:27 pm

Ah, you mentioned Buster Keaton and College. Do you know this is the first Keaton movie I ever saw and I was hooked from that moment. I know now that it isn't judged as one of his greatest and it's clearly an attempt to cash in on some of Harold's success and satisfy Nicholas Schenk. I still love College, Buster is sweet and he's so awful at all the sports he tries. The Freshman and I know exactly what it is that puts me off, it's that silly dance he does and persona that goes with it but that is what ruins the movie. It is only my personal taste and was obviously extremely popular with audiences both then and now.

I've not seen Speedy I'll have to make the effort.

I've not seen the original of The Kid, just the ending where Charlie gets invited into the house. The Gold Rush is a different movie, the reediting of a couple of key scenes changes the impetus of the story. The romance with Georgia is dulled in the narrated version. Interestingly and I don't know if this has anything to do with the editing but Georgia's autobiography says that Charlie came to her the night before he married Oona begging her to run away with him. I think the story unlikely as the ensuing marriage was so happy but perhaps there was a falling out there?
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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby MichiganJ » May 8th, 2009, 8:12 am

ccf,

The ending is actually the same on both editions of The Kid, but I think that in the original version, where Edna and her boyfriend are reunited, the Tramp being invited into the home is quite different than in the edited version, which may imply that the Tramp is going to be the Kid's surrogate's father or something.

The original cuts of the films were available on DVD from CBS/Fox (with the exception of The Gold Rush, which was the 1942 narrated version.) Unfortunately they are out of print and the "new" Warner Brothers/MK2 versions, which are the ones sanctioned by Chaplin's estate, are the re-edited versions (the edited sequences are available as supplements on the discs.) On The Circus, the only difference I can see is that Chaplin added his song, "Swing, Little Girl" over the opening credits (with shots of Merna swinging on her trapeze). A Woman of Paris was also edited, slightly (but the story isn't altered, as far as I can tell). City Lights wasn't changed at all (although the CBS/Fox edition did include a re-recording of Chaplin's original score by Carl Davis--adding a terrific dynamic). Modern Times has the most egregious cut, eliminating the final verse in the Tramp's "gibberish" song. (Oddly, the complete song is featured in their special features on the WB/MK2 release.)
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Re: Harold Lloyd

Postby charliechaplinfan » May 8th, 2009, 10:53 am

There's been a great box set out here for a longtime, released by the BFI. It does include both versions of The Gold Rush but disc 1 is the narrated version. It doesn't have the alternative scenes from The Kid though. The Circus, I agree, I think he only added the song at the beginning, a nice touch.

Harold Lloyd has had a complete box set release here but not Buster Keaton, I had to order the Art of Keaton from Kino.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin


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