Wednesday, August 5th, Harold Lloyd gets the start treatment in TCM’s Summer Under the Stars. Lloyd’s seminal pieces, Safety Last, The Freshman, Girl Shy and Hot Water, will be shown as part of a 19-film salute to one of cinema’s greatest comedians. TCM’s fabulously fun website is hosts to a bundle of Lloyd goodies–definitely worth visit or two. (31 actors in all will be paid tribute to each day in August and it’s great to see that people like Harold Lloyd, Sterling Hayden, Marion Davies, even Miriam Hopkins, even will get the sort of attention they deserve but don’t often receive.)
Harold Lloyd tends to get lost in the shuffle in the subject of the silent greats, taking a seemingly pre-destined third seat to Chaplin and Keaton. This may perhaps incline some to regard his work as somehow inferior to Chaplin and Keaton.
That, my friends, is a load of bologna.
Lloyd may perhaps lack certain Chaplinesque and Keatonesque qualities– but his films are hardly ‘inferior.’
There is a reason that Harold Lloyd’s films consistently topped the box office in the twenties–and even outperformed his better known contemporaries. Lloyd was a hard-working professional and his every-guy underdog appeal resonated with audiences. Finding success with Hal Roach in the late teens and early 20s, Lloyd went on to run his own production company which produced his finest features, namely, Girl Shy, The Freshman and Speedy. He made a semi-successful transition to sound, but the Depression was against the happy-go-lucky character that had made him famous. Lloyd, too, was terribly protective about the quality of his films and demaneded a high price for them (and rightfully so). The problem is that since Keaton and Chaplin comedies were much more readily available, the reuptation of Lloyd’s repetoire suffered, leading many to simply assume him to be the least of the holy trinity of silent comedy.
This is not fair, for Lloyd’s comedies are bright, sophisticated, smart and vastly entertaining– more than just a gangly fella hanging from the clock tower of a downtown high-rise, Lloyd learned well from Chaplin’s pathos and earnesty, as well as from Keaton’s symmetry and technicality, and demonstrated them all ever so superbly in his highly enjoyable feature films.
Watch them this Wednesday with open eyes and open hearts– he will enchant you.
Harold’s full lineup is as follows:
6:00 AM Bumping Into Broadway (’19)
6:30 AM From Hand to Mouth (’19)
7:00 AM Number Please (’20)
7:30 AM A Sailor Made Man (’21)
8:30 AM Grandma’s Boy (’22)
9:30 AM Dr. Jack (’22)
10:30 AM Safety Last! (’23)
12:00 PM Why Worry? (’23)
1:15 PM Girl Shy (’24)
2:45 PM Hot Water (’24)
3:45 PM The Freshman (’25)
5:15 PM For Heaven’s Sake (’26)
6:30 PM The Kid Brother (’27)
8:00 PM Speedy (’28)
9:30 PM Welcome Danger (’29)
11:30 PM Feet First (’30)
1:15 AM Movie Crazy (’32)
3:00 AM The Milky Way (“36)
4:30 AM Mad Wednesday (AKA The Sin of Harold Diddlebock) (’47)