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The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection (1919-1931) NR

October 27th, 2007 by Maxim · No Comments · 6,049 Views


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The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection

Marcel Marceau died a month ago, and it made me itch to watch some old silent movies, something like Charlie Chaplin or Baster Keaton ones. Netflix has got whole three volumes of Harold Lloyd movies he has done in the 20s.

The last volume I’ve got is collection on nine short and feature-length classics: The Kid Brother (1927), The Freshman (1925), Feet First (1930), Bumping into Broadway (1919 short), Billy Blazes Esq. and others.

The modern audience mostly watches these movies to see how life was during 20s and during Prohibition, but Harold Lloyd’s films are so human and real even modern audience will laugh: young and old.

I want to talk about my favorite on Volume 2: The Freshman. First of all, I live in LA, it was super-fun to see LA area (Pasadena, Culver City) in the 20s, USC, Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

This is a story of a young man Harold ‘Speedy’ Lamb (played by 31-year old Harold Lloyd) who really wants to go to college inspired by a movie he saw (clever!) about a popular college kid. He is a geek and desperate to become most popular man in town, but makes an idiot of himself. His last chance to become popular is to join the football team. He is bad at it, but because of his passion the coach doesn’t want to just get rid of him: he genuinely doesn’t have a heart to tell Harold that he is off the team and decided to tell him that he was accepted on the team as a substitute but essentially keeps him as a water boy.

Lloyd was at the height of his popularity then and could do whatever movie he wanted. And at that time he wanted to do a football movie. They shot the football sequences first, but then Harold realized he is not sure how to play the character because there was no character development, so they created the whole story. Jobyna Ralston, as usual, plays his love interest Peggy – she is always with him in all movies. Secondly, I hate sport movies, but The Freshman really isn’t one. More so because it’s a football spoof.

And what a story: not a scene, not even an object in a scene is wasted. Everything has a purpose. Jokes and gags are timed perfectly, and Lloyd is a master of setup for gags. No shot is cut too soon, or a joke played too long or wasted.

The romantic scenes were so sweet and funny, especially when a girl helps him to saw buttons on his shirts or when he wipes a mirror and sees her reflection in it. A lot of physical comedy too, choreographed to perfection. I like it more every time I see it, and I saw it twice in a row.

Composer Robert Israel has created an excellent orchestral score which perfectly complements the film.

Side notes:

  • police was quite brutal in 1919 Bumping into Broadway
  • Going to college in the 20s must have been a bigger privilege then being elected into Congress: Harold arrives into Tate University with ukulele, tennis racket and golf clubs.
  • Harold overspent his budget when he bought ice-cream for everyone on his first day in college to become most popular guy there, he had to rent an apartment – for $3 a week – not a small sum back then, when everyone lived on nickels and dimes.
  • Harold Lloyd must have been very athletic to shoot all these scenes having a prosthetic arm.
  • In his late 20s movies Harold Lloyd in his fake glasses looks like Harry Potter.
  • Did you know there was a train from Culver City to Los Angeles?
  • The films are black and white, but you can tell the difference between day scenes and night scenes by the tint: blue for the night and neutral B&W or brownish for the day scenes.
  • On DVD, watch this film twice, once with commentary from Leonard Maltin et al.

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Rated 5/5 on Oct 27 2007
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Tags: Black and White · Classic Films · Comedy · DVD · Movies · Silent

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