Harold Lloyd in “Haunted Spooks”
Today is the anniversary of the release date of Harold Lloyd’s 1920 silent comedy Haunted Spooks, co-starring Mildred Davis. It’s a fairly ordinary spook comedy, with the requisite climax in a “haunted house” on a dark and stormy night with the liberal employment of bed linens substituting for ghosts. With the exception of maybe Larry Semon, Lloyd made more use of the “superstitious black” stereotype than any major silent comedian I can think of, but in his defense I will say that his own character is just as knock kneed as the African American servants, and he relies on his own frequent hokey-jokey standby the fright wig for a cheap laugh.
For more on comedy film history see my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc. For more on show biz history, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.