Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Harold Lloyd collection: Slapstick Symposium (1919 - 1922)

Oh yeah, and a signature hat too

Genre: Silent Family Comedy Shorts

Starring: Harold Lloyd (Safety Last!; The Kid Brother), Mildred Davis

Directed By: Fred C. Newmeyer

Overview: This collection of Silent Shorts by the classic Harold Lloyd includes Grandma's Boy, where he plays a sissy who has to grow a spine to win the girl (with the help of a magic charm).

Acting: Lloyd is certainly a bit of an overdramatic pantomime. Buster Keaton was lower-key, and Douglas Fairbanks was so far out there that it went from good to bad and right back to kitsch. Maybe it's all the recent great Chaplin I've been watching that's tainted me, or all the different ladies Chaplin gets to play the girl (whereas Lloyd sticks with good ol' Mildred), but I can't say his early stuff is the best.
Rating: 7

Cinematography: There's a bit of the stunty stuff you'd expect, but it's more tripping over things and fistfights than genuine risky stuff. I don't know why I expect my slapstick comedians to endanger their lives, I just do.
Rating: 7

Script: The writing in these shorts is far different than the other comic stuff. Think Stooges. It's more present, tries to be funnier, punnier, but can often be just a string of groaners. It's nice to see a silent comedy that acts differently than the rest, but less is often more.
Rating: 6

Plot: The stepping on a rake gag is in this, and so is the backing up into a pitchfork, so classic stuff. My guest commented on how Walt Disney must have stolen every good gag from this guy because it's like we'd all seen it before.
Rating: 7

Mood: Where Chaplin is funny, Lloyd tends to be more 'cute' in this series of shorts. Keaton tends to play a meek absent-minded role. Chaplin doess short, poor and clumsy. Lloyd is like a fusion - clumsy and meek. I guess slapstick has a pretty strict set of rules. You either gotta be dumb, a butterfingers or puny. I just don't think Lloyd pulled it off as well as his counterparts in this one.
Rating: 6

Kids are the cutest, you just want to lock them in a closet the're so cute

Overall Rating: 66% (The Stick Needed More Slap)

Aftertaste: Apparently, in the 20s, Lloyd sold more tickets than Chaplin and Keaton and all other comics combined. Just goes to show that crowds can be fickle, I suppose. This guy is almost off the map nowadays. Granted this was not his best work, and I'm quickly finding that shorts, anyone's shorts, though a big hit back in the day, are not the best for entertainment, not compared to full-length features, anyways. One more down on the Silent Film Hit List!