HAROLD LLOYD COMEDY COLLECTION
Review by Michael Jacobson
Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis, Jobyna Ralston
Audio: Dolby Mono
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
Features: See Review
Length: 7 discs!
Release Date: November 15, 2005
Lloyd was one of the legendary three giants of silent comedies...there was
Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Lloyd, and then there was everybody else.
may recall Chaplin and Keaton a little more easily than Lloyd, but don't
despair. The Harold Lloyd Comedy
Collection is a seemingly never-ending parade of the comic's best, brightest
and most indelible work. Many fans
have been clamoring for a DVD set like this for some time now, but even if you
aren't one of them, you will be by the time you make your way through these 28
earned a reputation as a master of thrill comedy. His movies were funny and inventive, but they also were
suspenseful and exciting. Many
remember him as the man who dangled from a clock high above the city streets in Safety
Last, and rightfully so, that's the movie that begins this collection.
also a good showcase for Harold's character, usually called "The Boy".
He wasn't a pitiful tramp caught up in the throes of the world around him
like Chaplin, or a stone-faced fellow who made his way through life by
happenstance like Keaton. No,
Lloyd, with his glasses and straw hat, was a plucky go-getter, always thinking
on his feet and managing to work his way into and out of trouble with wit and
filled with such comedy. Who could
forget Lloyd hanging from a hook pretending to be a coat to escape his landlady,
or his efforts to convince his sweetheart that he's a successful store manager
instead of a fabric salesman? And
ultimately, his desire to earn money by having his human fly friend scale the
outside of the 16 story department building...which, of course, Harold ends up
having to do in his place!
most popular feature The Freshman is also included, where the spirited
Harold tries his hand at college and doesn't realize his "friends" are
actually having a laugh at his expense. Will
he prove himself, win the girl, and save the big football game for his school
despite being a lowly waterboy? One
always a favorite of mine...in it, Harold plays a dreamer who is so nervous
around women he stutters uncontrollably, yet somehow manages to pen a tome on
how to romance girls! He happens to
fall in love (Jobyna Ralston was a beautiful as they came), but the success of
his book will determine whether he feels he can pursue the girl of his dreams.
The finale is an all out race to the altar where Harold uses every means
imaginable to get there...and I do mean EVERY means!
Kid Brother is
one of Lloyd's best: a kind of
reverse Cinderella tale where little brother Harold gets to prove his mettle to
his disapproving older siblings. This
is a film that showcases not only Harold's knack for comic timing and physical
business, but what a consummate artist he was...the film is quite lovely to look
these are just the tip of the iceberg. Speedy
has Harold trying to save the last horse-drawn trolley in New York
City...watch for the cameo of Babe Ruth as himself! Hot Water showcases Harold in a domestically troubling
situation. And The Milky Way showed
he was not bothered by the advent of sound; he plays a milkman who becomes a
boxer in one of his best talkies.
haven't even touched on the trove of short films included in the set!
If you want to see Harold's beginnings in the movies, there are plenty of
treats for you. My favorites are "Ask Father", where a determined
Harold tries to get permission to marry his girl from her father, a businessman
who has many ways to keep from being disturbed, and "From Hand to Mouth",
where a down-on-his-luck Harold, along with an adorable little girl and an
enthusiastic dog, help save an heiress' fortune from unscrupulous lawyers.
Or how about "High and Dizzy", where an intoxicated Harold ends
up wandering on a high window ledge? For
him, it's literally a hair-raising experience!
are thrills and laughs galore...perhaps Lloyd didn't quite have Keaton's total
mastery of prop comedy and stuntwork (but then again, neither has anyone
else in the history of motion pictures), but he comes darn near.
Some of his work is even more amazing when you remember that he lost the
thumb and forefinger of his right hand in an accident...look closely in many of
these films and you can see his special prosthetic glove made to give the
illusion of a full working hand. But
it didn't function like a real appendage...when Harold hung from those ledges
and the face of that clock, he was doing so with only three fingers on his
was also a savvy businessman...he kept ownership of all his films, and as such,
was able to take good care of them and market them throughout the years.
His estate still controls his movies, which thankfully led to this DVD
release. No worries about
butchered, sloppy public domain prints tarnishing his legacy.
When you see a Harold Lloyd film today, you know what you're seeing met
with his seal of approval.
Perhaps most of all, Lloyd came across as a complete actor. He was never as pigeonholed into his on-screen persona as Chaplin or Keaton, and as such, he could allow his characters wider range. Unlike The Little Tramp, he could be heartbreaking without a deliberate appeal for sympathy. And different from the Great Stone Face, Harold was expressive, reactive, and real. When fans saw Harold Lloyd in a movie, they could see themselves. It was this down-to-earth Everyman quality that set him apart from his contemporaries, and actually earned him popularity that at times exceeded theirs!
collection is joyful beyond measure. I
had more fun with it than just about any other DVD release I can remember.
I'm more than happy to retire my VHS copies of Harold's classic films and
start the part of my life where I can enjoy them again and again on disc.
Harold Lloyd was a genius, an artist, and a comedian of the highest
caliber. I can't imagine the silent
era without him. Thanks to The
Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection, none of us will never have to.
TRIVIA: After Safety Last, Mildred
Davis retired from Harold Lloyd's movies, but not from his life...she became
Mrs. Harold Lloyd!
One: Safety Last, An Eastern
Westerner, Ask Father, Girl Shy, From Hand to Mouth
Disc Two: The Cat's Paw, The Milky Way, Why Worry
Disc Three: The Kid Brother, Bumping into Broadway, The Freshman, Billy Blazes Esq.
Disc Four: Dr. Jack, Feet First, Grandma's Boy, Now or Never, High and Dizzy
Disc Five: Speedy, Never Weaken, Haunted Spooks, Hot Water
Disc Six: Movie Crazy, Get Out and Get Under, For Heaven's Sake, Number Please, A Sailor-Made Man, Among Those Present, I Do
Lloyd owned his films and he took good care of them, so they look better than
most movies from the silent era. Of
course, age takes some toll, and you will see a scratch here, a spot there, but
considering how far back the pictures go, that's nothing to be upset about.
For the most part, the black and white photography has held up well, with
clean images and good detail. Many
of the films also feature their original color tinting.
I think most cineastes will be more than pleased with New Line's effort
Israel does a lot of the scoring for these films, and his work matches Harold's
beat for beat. The music is a real
treat, and helps accentuate the laughter and the suspense.
A few of his films also have alternate organ scores, but you really can't
go wrong with Israel's music, which is lively and crisp despite mono
know I'm going to overlook something here, so bear with me...the extras are
spread throughout the six main discs, and there's a seventh disc of nothing but
One has a commentary track by Leonard Maltin and director/Lloyd friend Richard
Correll for Safety Last, along with some production galleries, which are
also on Disc Two, along with a featurette on "Harold's Hollywood".
Three has a commentary for The Freshman by Maltin, Correll and historian
Richard W. Bann, and a commentary by Harold's granddaughter and DVD producer
Suzanne Lloyd with Correll and author Annette D'Agostino Lloyd for The Kid
Brother. More production
galleries can be found on Discs Three and Four, which also has a featurette on
scoring for comedy.
Five has commentaries on Speedy and Haunted Spooks by Suzanne
Lloyd, Annette D'Agostino Lloyd and Richard Correll, and there are more
production galleries on Discs Five and Six, along with a featurette on Harold's
home at Greenacres.
brings us to the bonus disc...where to begin?
Leonard Maltin introduces the disc, and after that, a good place to start
is his overview of Harold's life and career. A more detailed look is available, broken up into four
distinct periods. There are video
bios of many of Harold's friends and collaborators from Hollywood's Golden Age,
rare vintage interviews and home movies, photo galleries galore including
Lloyd's famous 3-D photographs (glasses that look like his are included!).
There are vintage radio appearances, Harold accepting his special Oscar,
a tribute from USC's Delta Kappa Alpha hosted by Jack Lemmon and Steve Allen,
and a collection of tributes and interviews with many of Harold's friends and
some historians, including Debbie Reynolds, Robert Wagner, Tab Hunter, John
Landis, Kevin Brownlow and more.
also interviews Harold's daughter Gloria and granddaughter Suzanne about the star's
life and the
compilation of this set. And
Harold's granddaughter takes us on a tour of the handprints outside Grauman's
Chinese Theatre in search of Harold's mark.
There are some before and after location photos, along
with complete filmography for the star. All
in all, over three hours of bonus material are on this disc alone.