Thursday, September 16, 2010

Loving Me Some Lloyd

I haven't had much time to post here this week. My apartment flooded at 4 am Monday morning (a pipe in my bathroom exploded!), and I have been busy cleaning up the mess. No heart breaking casualties. (One Jean Harlow pic didn't make it... but it can be easily replaced.) On top of that, my grandmother has been in the hospital... so I have been spending time up there with her after work. Needless to say, I haven't had the time to just sit and relax and watch a movie... I am starting to go through withdrawals.

I did read some interesting things the other day about one of my favorite actors (on my lunch break at work) and thought I would share :)

When I say: "Silent Film Comedian" Who automatically comes to mind?
Chaplin? Keaton? Maybe perhaps even Laurel & Hardy?
For me, my favorite silent comedian is Harold Lloyd and I think its a shame that more people don't know who he is.

I first saw a Lloyd film late one night a few years ago. It was over the holidays and I couldn't sleep.... and like some of you out there... When you can't sleep, you don't count sheep, you turn on Robert Osbourne :) A silent movie had just started and I curled up on the couch thinking it would lull me back to sleep. Instead, I found myself giggling at the skinny little man with horn rimmed glasses. He was playing a sailor trying to rescue a girl from an evil Sheik. He was bouncing around everywhere running from the Sheik's guards. I found him absolutely adorable!

The next morning, I jumped on the computer to see what the name of the movie had been and the name of the actor. The film was called A Sailor-Made Man (1921) with, who else, but Harold Lloyd. I had never heard of Lloyd but was instantly smitten, and have remained so ever since.

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of seeing Lloyd's film The Freshman at Cinecon 46. His granddaughter Suzanne Lloyd spoke about her grandfather before the film began and I was blown away that I was getting to see all of it in person. She spoke about her grandfather's physical dissabiltiy and how he didn't let it effect his stunts. He said that his audience had come to expect his stunt comedy, and he wasn't about to let them down.

I knew that Lloyd made most of his films with only one hand, but didn't know any of the specifics. So I decided to do a little reading on my lunch break. I went on his official web page and learned so many cool things about this guy.

He was actually the first film comedian to portray just an average boy next door. He started his career playing the "Tramp" character (like Chaplin) but then shed the oversize clothes for his everyday wardrobe and glasses. He told stories that audiences could relate to and he in effect, invented the romantic comedy. He played an ordinary guy forced into extraordinary circumstances to win, save or catch the heart of the girl he loves. These women weren't lofty, voluptuous creatures, but just like Lloyd, they were (adorable) everyday girls.

I read that it was during the middle of his career (1919) that Lloyd experienced his nearly fatal accident. He was posing for a photographer, the shot called for Lloyd to be lighting a cigarette using a prop bomb (it looked something like the round black ones you see in cartoons), but the prop wasn't a prop at all, but in fact a real bomb. It not only blew off the majority of Lloyd's hand, but it left him scarred and blind. The doctors said that he would never see again. But his sight did come back gradually, his scars slowly healed and he was given a glove to cover his hand and mask his missing fingers. He never regained the full use of that hand.

Lloyd went on to have a very successful silent film career in the 20s making such notable titles as Safety Last (1923) Girl Shy (1924) and Speedy (1928). He continued to do his own stunts in his films (with the use of only one hand! How crazy cool is that?!) And his dare devil comedy still makes you cringe and gasp today.

Walking out of the Egyptian Theater after watching The Freshman... I was so happy. Talking to myself I said "That was..." and a man walking out next to me finished my thought "Amazing." We smiled. That is what I love about film. That feeling that settles deep in your chest during the final credits. You know that you have just witnessed something special, and you couldn't wipe the smile off your face if you tried. I think it means even more when the film is old. 90% of silent films have been lost forever, when you see one that has survived, its like looking at an endangered species.

I know there are so many folks out there that are cautious about silent movies. I used to be one of them. But give Harold Lloyd a chance. He will not only make you smile... but he will open you up to a whole new world of film experiences... Just look at that face... how could you resist?!

Watch the video without sound... come on... you know you want to :)

1 comment:

  1. I agree Kelley, Lloyd has a disarming sweetness about him that is hard to ignore.