Hi and a warm welcome to my first group dedicated to a solo performer. I feel I can do real justice to a few great performers easier than a lot of performers in the more general
groups I've set up before.
Harold Lloyd will always occupy a special place in my heart. It was the TV series Harold Lloyd's World of Comedy, along with the other silent clowns, Laurel and Hardy and the cliffhanger serials that really got me interested in classic movies. So I owe Harold a debt I can never repay and continue to enjoy his films to this day, he always cheers me up when I'm down.
Brief biography by Classic Movie Man
Harold Lloyd (1893-1971)
Sadly Harold Lloyd's films are nowhere near as well known as his rivals Chaplin and Keaton. Lloyd himself rarely reissued his work and since his death the films have been seen very rarely on TV and video compared with all the other film comedy greats.
Hopefully this state of affairs has been at least partially reversed since his films were issued on DVD late in 2005 and Lloyd will at last get some recognition for his genius as both a comedian and auteur. In the Twenties he was more consistently popular than Chaplin or Keaton and his films are funnier too. Although he never took the credit he could have claimed to be the director of all his silent features, this side to him, his domination of his work has become obscured by time, limited exposure and his own innate modesty.
Lloyd began his film career as a Chaplin imitator first as a character called Willie Work later as Lonesome Luke. He took a long time to find his feet as a film comedian, learning his craft the hard way. He probably made around 100 shorts before the results were any better than not bad but when he hit on the glasses character he struck a nerve with the audiences of the time.
Lloyd's first notable film is the two reeler Bumping Into Broadway (1919) and his rarely seen shorts include some gems like An Eastern Westerner (1920), I Do (1921), Never Weaken (1921) and Now or Never (1921). During the filming of Haunted Spooks (1920) he posed with a fake bomb for publicity photographs but the bomb went off causing him to lose the thumb and forefinger of his right hand, after that he wore a special glove to conceal his disability.
Lloyd is most famous today for his so-called thrill pictures in which he climbed buildings but he only made five of these out of an output of well over 100 films. The most well known image of Harold is of him hanging from the clock in Safety Last! (1923) one of his best films. A few of his early features like A Sailor Made Man (1921) and Doctor Jack (1922) are more flimsy in their premises than the three reel shorts though all his films had very funny moments. Lloyd was a master of sight gags and as a laugh provoker had no rivals. Grandma's Boy (1922) added an extra dimension to his comedy by incorporating character into the gag framework. The timid young man who becomes a hero was to be a common Lloyd theme that he was to return to in his best films like The Freshman (1925) and The Kid Brother (1927).
Some sequences in the Lloyd silents are among the most exciting and funniest in film history such as the final chases in Girl Shy (1924) and Speedy (1928) and the collapsing tuxedo in The Freshman (1925). Occasionally though Lloyd reverted to his earlier feature work in films which had incredibly funny sequences but lacked dramatic unity such as Hot Water (1924) and For Heaven's Sake (1926).
Unfortunately he never quite got a hang of the talkies despite some reasonable attempts Lloyd's go-getting character didn't really work in the world of sound and seemed indelibly linked to the roaring 20s. Sound appeared to emphasise the character's defects but also Lloyd increasingly abandoned the style of hilarious gag sequences for comedy founded on dialogue.
After his final disappointing attempt at a comeback under the direction of Preston Sturges (The Sin of Harold Dibblebock (1946)) he retired to his Green Acres mansion. Having kept control of almost all his films he was a very rich man.
Through neglect Lloyd's film-making genius has been forgotten certainly among general film critics and the general public but he remains one of the funniest men ever to walk in front of a camera.