Monday, January 03, 2011

Hooray for Harold Lloyd!

My friend Robert was nice enough to send me a collections of DVDs to watch while I was recuperating from surgery. One of them, the Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection, is about the most amazing, comprehensive, beautifully preserved collection of vintage films I've ever seen. Lloyd, who had both big bucks and the ownership of his films, kept them all in good condition, and most of them look almost as good as the day they were released.

There's even a pristine print of his 1936 film, the Milky Way which producer Sam Goldwyn had bought the rights to just so he could destroy the negatives and all existing prints to keep them from competing with his own remake, the Kid From Brooklyn. So where'd this good print come from? Lloyd secretly kept his own negative. Smooth move, Harold.

Anyway, these great set has prompted me to do a few searches on Lloyd' on the internet, and two things keep coming up:

1) This is distinct improvement over Harold Lloyd's World of Comedy, a 1970s TV series which presented chopped up, abbreviated Lloyd bits with sarcastic narration, goofy music and sound effects in a misguided effort to make Lloyd's comedy palatable for a younger audience.

2) British movie buffs declaring "Hooray for Harold Lloyd!" That's the chorus of the same show's irresistibly catchy theme song by Neal Hefti, whose other accomplishments include the classic 1960s theme song to Batman.

Yes, this Harold Lloyd compilation show ran on the BBC2 in the 70s (and was apparently brough back later) and introduced many a young fan to Lloyd, silent comedy, and classic cinema in general.

Yes, the show is a hatches job. The clip above starts by unnecessarily combining the opening of Hot Water with the climax of For Heavens Sake, for instance.

But if it got young people watching Lloyd, who cares. It's still his comedy. Maybe film buff should worry less about keeping things pure and appreciate whatever brings in the converts.

Besides, that theme song couldn't put it any better. If ever a comic hero was a hero in the most traditional sense, it's Lloyd. You wanted him to overcome his limitations (in his best films, he always had a weakness to overcome), stop the bad guys and get the girl. And he pretty much always did.

Hooray for Harold Lloyd!


At 1/9/11, 3:14 AM, Anonymous Boston Bill said...

Hooray Indeed!

Every character he played was always Harold.

One collaborator described him not as a comedian, but an actor playing a comedian (and for that matter, the best ever to do so!)

At 1/9/11, 11:11 PM, Blogger Monster, Indeed! said...

LLoyd was a producer in the hands-on 1930s sense. He didn't have Keaton or Chaplin's natural talent for comedy, but he knew good ideas when he heard them, talented people when he met them, and most importantly, he knew what WOULDN'T work. (LLoyd was always careful not to repeat ideas from movie to movie. For instance, he wouldn't play a shy person twice in a row.) And in a collaborative medium, like film, that's what counts.

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