Archive for the Harold Lloyd Category

Tonight on TCM: Silent Comedies with Dogs

Posted in Comedians, Comedy, Fatty Arbuckle, Harold Lloyd with tags , , , , , , , on November 27, 2016 by travsd

Today Turner Classic Movies is showing canine related films most of the day. As a digestif, they have also devoted Silent Sundays to the same theme. The fun starts at midnight.

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Love My Dog (1927)

In this silent Our Gang short, Farina and Joe Cobb’s dog Oleander (Pete the Pup) is taken to the pound and the kids have to raise the money to spring him! Tiny Sandford plays a lawyer.

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Number, Please? (1920)

While the climax to this Harold Lloyd short is one of the film’s best parts, the set-up is convoluted. Harold and a rival (Roy Brooks) vie for the attentions of a girl (Mildred Davis) at an amusement park. When her dog gets lost, she wants to go up in a hot air balloon operated by her uncle. The balloon will only hold two. The girl announces she will go up with whichever beau gets her mother’s permission first. The rival heads for the mother’s house in a car. Harold runs to a telephone so he can call the mother for permission. This would seem easy…but it’s a public phone in a hotel. The hilarious part is the succession of obstacles which prevent him from doing this simple thing. Then he winds up with a lost purse, which he finally gives to a goat to eat so he won’t be arrested for stealing. But it turns out to have been the girl’s purse, complete with the balloon tickets….

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Fatty’s Faithful Fido (1915)

For a time, Fatty Arbuckle was sharing his billing with a pooch named Luke. In this little short Luke has Fatty’s back in a rivalry with spiffy dude Al St. John over the the attention of Minta Durfee. After Fatty and Luke give Al a beat-down in the streets (and on the roofs) of Chinatown, Al literally marks Fatty for revenge, drawing an “x” on his back, the better for two hired thugs to identify him at the dance that night so they can give him a drubbing. Al’s plan gets thwarted though. And how’s it end? Well, what’s the default ending in half the Keystone comedies? That’s right — everyone falls into a tub of water.

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Fatty’s Plucky Pup (1915)

As he often does, in this film Roscoe plays a good-for-nothing layabout who lives with his mother (Phyllis Allen). He smokes in bed and starts a fire. Then he gives a dog a bath in a washtub, ruining the laundry. He is also fond of flirting with Lizzie the girl next door (Josephine Stevens). Later he brings Lizzie to an amusement part, where she will be kidnapped by a gang of shell game operators led by Edgar Kennedy. Luke the Dog alerts Fatty to the situation and the two of them (joined by the Keystone Kops) come to her rescue. The film contains a memorable shot of Mack Sennett’s famous treadmill-scrolling backdrop combo that gave a very cartoonish impression of the subject running (or riding a bike as the case may be) with the background going by behind them.

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Dog Daze (1925)

In this earlier Our Gang short, the kids all have pooches that perform specialty tricks. When they manage to stop rich girl Mary’s runaway pony, she invites them to her ritzy party, where the dogs reveal that they are not all angels.

 

A Very Young Harold Lloyd in “Court House Crooks”

Posted in Century of Slapstick, Comedy, Harold Lloyd, Hollywood (History), Movies, Silent Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2015 by travsd
A pre-glasses Harold Lloyd hides in the closet

A pre-glasses Harold Lloyd hides in the closet

Today is the 100th anniversary of the Keystone ensemble comedy Court House Crooks (1915), directed by and starring by Ford Sterling.

This little comedy has a number of interesting features, not the least of which is that it contains one of the very few screen appearances made by Harold Lloyd in a Keystone picture. He hasn’t yet established his glasses character; he comes across as a very nice, if undistinguished young man.

Here’s the plot: Minta Durfee plays a judge’s wife. The judge (Charles Arling) has forgotten her anniversary so she makes him go buy her a gift, so he goes and gets a jeweled necklace. Meantime she also has something going with D.A. Ford Sterling. She arranges to meet Ford at the soda fountain. The Judge accidentally drops the box with the necklace, which Ford just happens to find. He keeps the necklace and gives it to the Judge’s wife, throwing away the box, which a  young loafer (Harold Lloyd)  happens to find. Harold is pursued by police when he is discovered with the box. He runs home to his mother and little sister and hides in the closet.

The cops catch him, put him in jail. He escapes and climbs a ladder into what turns out to be the Judge’s house! He hides, once again, in a closet, but this tme it happens to be one in which Ford Sterling happens to be hiding. Ford tricks Harold into surrendering, claiming that he will get him off the hook. Then Ford slips out …does a tightrope walk on clotheslines! Coincidentally (there are quite a few coincidences in this movie) the house next door is where Lloyd’s mother and sister live. Ford promises to free the boy.

Climax: the big courtroom scene. (Um, as though they would allow a Judge to try a case in which he is also the victim). Ford renegs on his promise and vigorously argues the case to prosecute Harold. Harold’s little sister (she’s only about 7 or 8) gets an idea: she writes a message on a mirror then shines it into the court. Jury and Judge see the message. Ford hides under the Judge’s desk and Minta comes into the court wearing the necklace. Ford is bonked on the head and put in jail.

For more on silent and slapstick comedy don’t miss my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from amazon.com etc etc etcchain%20of%20fools%20cvr%20front%20only-500x500For more on show biz historyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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Just Nuts: Harold Lloyd’s Oldest Surviving Comedy

Posted in Century of Slapstick, Comedy, Harold Lloyd, Hollywood (History), Movies, Silent Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2015 by travsd
Harold Lloyd - Rolin Film Company (1916)

Couldnt find a still of “Just Nuts” or even a pic of Lloyd as Willie Work. But this is a group shot of Hal Roach’s Rolin Company taken around the same time. Lloyd, Bebe Daniels and Snub Pollard are all in the pic — see if you can spot them!

A red letter day! Today marks the anniversary of the oldest surviving Harold Lloyd comedy Just Nuts. 

The Museum of Modern Art has one of the few surviving copies; I had it screened for me whilst I was researching Chain of Fools. (Thanks MOMA!)

Just Nuts featured Lloyd in his first comedy screen character, prior even to Lonesome Luke. His name here is Willie Work, and this character was devised so early it is previous even to Lloyd’s brief stint (and schooling) at KeystoneJust Nuts was the only one of the Willie Work comedies that Hal Roach was able to sell to distributors. Watching the surviving film, it is easy to see why the others didn’t sell. Just Nuts is amateurish enough — imagine what the other ones were like.

If you’ve seen any of the Lonesome Luke comedies, you know that Lloyd was consciously doing his best to imitate Chaplin in that character. Well, with Willie Work he did that EVEN MORE, and more overtly. The costume looks more like Chaplin’s, including an unruly mat of hair, oversized shoes, etc. He reflexively tips his hat, thumbs his nose at people, spits, and so forth.

The plot is fairly aimless. Willie sees a pretty girl, follows her, then gets run down by two cars. He sits next to a sleeping man on a park bench, and steals a cigar from him, lighting a match on his neck. Then he steals his newspaper, then steals his eyeglasses to read it with. On another bench, two mashers are bothering a girl. She dislikes one, is on a date with the other. The spurned one throws a brick. It hits the sleeping man, who wakes and hits Willy. Willy hits him back with a Chaplinesque spin and winds up in a garbage can. The spurned masher hooks up with another lady who seems most willing, takes a drink from a flask, then drops it on Willy’s head. Willy falls out of the trash can. The sleeping man sits on the bench with the first couple, then falls asleep again. Willy steals a cop’s truncheon, then hits the sleeping man, who wakes and hits the young man with the girl. Willie sits with the girl. A cop comes up and hits him with club, knocking him out. More fisticuffs and nonsense, then the setting switches to café. Willy comes in, steals a beer, then the waiters throw him out.  Willy sneaks back in and stabs the waiters with fork. There is a  general melee. Fade out.

Just Nuts didn’t set the world on fire, but it gave Lloyd and Roach just enough encouragement to stay in the film business. Later that year they would split for a while, Lloyd serving an apprenticeship at Keystone, Roach doing the same as a director at Essanay. When they came back together to make the Lonesome Luke comedies they had a much firmer grasp of how to make successful (and professional) movies.

For more on slapstick 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 historyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

Harold Lloyd in “The Kid Brother”

Posted in Comedy, Harold Lloyd, Hollywood (History), Movies, Silent Film with tags , , , on January 17, 2015 by travsd

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Today is the anniversary of the release date of Harold Lloyd’s 1927 feature The Kid Brother.

In The Kid Brother, Lloyd stretched somewhat, venturing into what one thinks of as Keaton territory, a 19th century period piece. Lloyd had gotten the inspiration to do a film with this kind of rustic setting from the 1921 hit Tol’able David. The Kid Brother casts Harold as the youngest son in a very Bonanza-like family of manly men. The father, the town sheriff, is framed in the theft of town funds by some carnival con men, and it falls to Harold to find the true culprits, even as he is being bullied by his older, meaner brothers. To complicate matters, Lloyd is in love with a girl from the carnival (Jobyna Ralston), and he has been masquerading as the town sheriff, doing much damage thereby.

The picture is moodier and more beautiful to look at than most Lloyd pictures—looks more like Chaplin, Keaton or Langdon. The climax on a partially submerged riverboat also conjures a similar scene in Huckleberry Finn. But don’t let this talk of beauty fool ya. It’s full of hilarious gags, too.

For more on silent and slapstick comedy don’t miss 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

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To find out more about  the history of show businessconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold

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Harold Lloyd in “Number, Please?”

Posted in Comedy, Harold Lloyd, Hollywood (History), Silent Film with tags , , , on December 26, 2014 by travsd

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Today is the anniversary of the release date of the Harold Lloyd short Number, Please? (1920)

While the climax to this short is one of the film’s best parts, the set-up is convoluted. Harold and a rival (Roy Brooks) vie for the attentions of a girl (Mildred Davis) at an amusement park. When her dog gets lost, she wants to go up in a hot air balloon operated by her uncle. The balloon will only hold two. The girl announces she will go up with whichever beau gets her mother’s permission first. The rival heads for the mother’s house in a car. Harold runs to a telephone so he can call the mother for permission. This would seem easy…but it’s a public phone in a hotel. The hilarious part is the succession of obstacles which prevent him from doing this simple thing. Then he winds up with a lost purse, which he finally gives to a goat to eat so he won’t be arrested for stealing. But it turns out to have been the girl’s purse, complete with the balloon tickets….

For more on comedy film history please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from amazon.com etc etc etcchain%20of%20fools%20cvr%20front%20only-500x500To find out about  the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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Harold Lloyd in “A Sailor Made Man”

Posted in Comedy, Harold Lloyd, Hollywood (History), Movies, Silent Film with tags , , , , on December 25, 2014 by travsd

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Today is the anniversary of the Harold Lloyd comedy A Sailor Made Man (1921). You see? They had Christmas releases even back then. At four reels, it was Lloyd’s longest comedy to date. In its day it was considered Lloyd’s first feature, nowadays many consider it his last short, though a long one. (And it was initially conceived as a short; Lloyd’s writers simply came up with too much material for two reels).

Harold plays an idle, very entitled rich boy. He seems to think he owns the world and everybody in it. For some reason we don’t hate him as we should. There’s something very innocent about him. He just doesn’t know any better. Certainly he makes people who have to deal with him angry, but the audience doesn’t dislike him.  As an example of his character’s lack of boundary when we first meet his character, he seems to be painting. The camera pulls back and then we see that he is only closely studying a painters work as he paints. This is an example of how he doesn’t have any sense of boundary.

He decides he wants to marry his very popular girlfriend (Mildred Davis) and makes the mistake of announcing that he wants to do so to her father. The father is outraged and replies that he can do so once he actually has some purpose, and has done some work in the world.  So Harold joins the navy. Funny—now Harold is the other Harold, the Harold we know from most of his movies. He’s lost the entitlement, he’s just a little fellow. Lots of gags aboard ship as Harold first runs afoul of his big bunkmate and his superiors. But the big guy becomes his friend when Harold takes the blame for something he himself actually did. Later it looks like Harold has knocked out the navy boxing champ, which further makes him okay in the big guy’s book.

Meanwhile Mildred and party go on a worldwide cruise on a yacht with her father. What do you want to bet they’ll wind up in the same place as Harold? They do, six months later. The fictional port they stop at looks like India or the Middle East.  When Mildred is stolen by a very sinister looking Rajah or Sheik of some sort for his harem, Harold must affect a rescue in this enormous fairy tale-looking palace. Which he does. When Harold proposes to the girl ship-to-ship via semaphore flags, the father now acquiesces.

For more on silent and slapstick comedy please 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

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To find out more about show business past and presentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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Harold Lloyd in “Peculiar Patients Pranks”

Posted in Comedy, Harold Lloyd, Hollywood (History), Movies, Silent Film with tags , , , , on December 21, 2014 by travsd

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Today is the anniversary of the release date of the early Harold Lloyd comedy Peculiar Patients’ Pranks (1915), directed by Hal Roach. The second oldest surviving Lonesome Luke short, Peculiar Patients Pranks is a hospital comedy offering such crudities as a doctor wielding a wood saw, a man suffering from a Flintstonesque animated head lump, and the comic misuse of chloroform. It also features Snub Pollard and Bebe Daniels.

For more on silent and slapstick comedy please 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

chain%20of%20fools%20cvr%20front%20only-500x500

To find out more about show business past and presentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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