A Few Words About A few words about... The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Robert Harris, Nov 15, 2005.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Like the release of some major motion pictures which hope to capture Academy Award nominations, some of the most important DVDs are arriving as the year comes toward an end.

    Just a couple of days after spending some time with King Kong DVD, I've now had an hour or so to sample the seven disc set entitled The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection.

    To have the ability to actually acquire all of these films at the same time is almost beyond belief. New Line has put a great deal of effort into this release, which, like Kong, should go out with a very understandable caveat...

    Most films from the silent era no longer exist. So to have these films at all is a joy. These are films which cover the feature length era of Mr. Lloyd's work, with some going back to the teens.

    Many of these films are derived from nitrate prints, which were copied to safety stock. Strangely, although the original negatives on many had survived, the odd decision to go from prints seemed to have been made.

    Although some of the print materials show wear, there is nothing here of concern, and overall the films are much more than acceptable, some still exhibit the original beauty one might find in a nitrate print.

    My personal choice for silent comedy stars has always been Keaton, followed by Lloyd, and then Chaplin.

    Silent films, especially for those who have not been exposed to them, seem to pose some sort of cinematic threat. I would advise even those who fear the silent cinema to take a chance on this one.

    I should note that the silent films are beautifully scored, and that Mr. Lloyd's work is also represented by "talkies."

    In a single package, you're able to access the life's work of one of the world's funniest and most charming comedians.

    This is a seven disc cornucopia of some of the finest films ever made, thoroughly and studiously brought to DVD with more bits and extras than one might feel imaginable.

    So, for the second time in two days, we have a best of 2005.

    In this case, a specialized field... The Lloyd Collection is best silent release of the year, and like Kong, cannot receive a higher recommendation from these quarters.

    RAH
     
  2. Mark VH

    Mark VH Stunt Coordinator

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    Now there's a surprise - two RAH raves, two titles at the top of my Christmas list. Great minds...
     
  3. Darrell S.

    Darrell S. Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm interested in seeing if the supplemental material includes information on his fake hand and how it was created and hidden from the public. Also, I hear there is a set of 3-D glasses included in the box set to view a collection of his 3-D photography. Anyone know?
     
  4. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    There is a set of 3-D glasses included in a small envelope packaged alongside the disc boxes. I haven't noted anything related specifically to his hand, but in at least one of the extras, a discussion regarding his career, he is not wearing an appliance. I have no idea whether he used it strictly for film work.
     
  5. Darrell S.

    Darrell S. Stunt Coordinator

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    A bit of history for those who may not know, during the filming of HAUNTED SPOOKS in 1919, a prop bomb blew some fingers off one hand. He somehow made a cast of his other hand and reversed it rigging his own prosthetic device that was strapped to the remaining fingers in order to give him some movement of the fake fingers. This was covered with a white glove. You can see the difference in all his films and photos following this. He also tries to hide this hand in all the shots this hand appears. I believe the device disintegrated and he stopped wearing it and just kept his hand in his pocket most of the time. There are some home movies of him playing with his kids and the hand is visible and just has a couple of fingers on it.
     
  6. Al (alweho)

    Al (alweho) Second Unit

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    Also note that if you purchase this set from Best Buy you also get a CD of two radio shows (Boy Meets Girl & June Moon) as a bonus.
     
  7. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    A bit of additional information regarding the preservation work done to these film elements.

    The concepts, as well as our abilities, have changed over the past few decades, along with the necessity for preservation based upon new and alternative means of distribution.

    While some of the Lloyd features did not receive preservation fine grains based upon extant Onegs, others did, and the difference can be seen on the DVDs. It really is important to understand that at the time the work was done, decisions were made predicated upon current technology and available budgets. Several of the films which do survive as second generation fine grains were created on optical printers, and a bit of chatter may be noted in frame movement and steadiness, which was probably caused by shrinkage.

    Some of the original prints apparently still survive.

    The message here is that the work done was thought proper at the time, and we should all raise a glass to those who not only guarded the elements, but took the time and care to reproduce them.

    It would be an error to question why something looks as it does, or the propriety of why it was handled as it was.

    Could or would things be handled differently today? Certainly.

    But the bottom line is that it was handled, and we are the new beneficiary of the results.

    RAH
     
  8. Darrell S.

    Darrell S. Stunt Coordinator

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    Isn't Robert Harris a class act! Hopefully a new generation will discover and enjoy HAROLD LLOYD because of his nuanced, and understated acting ability. It should also be noted that he did all his own stunts and the precarious situations were not faked. Cary Grant paid homage to him in BRINGING UP BABY by wearing his trademark glasses and innocent boy-next-door stylings. [​IMG]
     
  9. Keith Paynter

    Keith Paynter Screenwriter

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    Well said, RAH - the sound age made much of the silent product virtually worthless to the studios from a commercial standpoint. What wasn't purged by the studios suffered from natural disasters (The MGM fire comes to mind), degredation from improper storage and (simply) the ravages of time where nitrate stock is concerned. Cherish what little remains - it is a part of the legacy of world cinema that, in spite of its silence, speaks volumes.
     
  10. Brian PB

    Brian PB Supporting Actor

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    Mr. Harris:

    In another thread reviewer Mark Zimmer wrote:
    I wonder if you also noticed these problems during your survey of this set and cared to comment.
     
  11. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    This appears to be speed correction, which would be normal. Whether improper flagging might play a role or not, I cannot say.

    One anomoly which appears in some films is nitrate shrinkage.

    I tend to overlook problems on films of this age on DVD, as we're dealing with antique elements.

    The important thing, and the main point which I hope that younger viewers will discover, is that while the film elements may be of antique vintage, and occasionally problematic (although overall, of high quality)...

    that Mr. Lloyd's work has magnificently stood the test of time, and has all of the comedic immediacy today that it had when first released.

    These are brilliant films.

    RAH
     
  12. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    Wow thanks for all this awesome info
     
  13. TedD

    TedD Supporting Actor

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    I watched "Girl Shy" from this set last night and was also highly impressed with the quality of both the film elements and the transfer.

    When you consider that the original for this title is 80+ years old, it's even more amazing.

    I also highly recommend the alternate theater organ scores be chosen (when available) to give a more 1920's feel to watching these films.

    Ted
     
  14. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Ordered and on the way (along with the Unseen Cinema box).

    I recently saw Safety Last and The Freshman on the big screen... 35mm, full aperture. Both had a little bit of damage, but I couldn't believe how great the contrast, detail, and clarity was. The whole climbing sequence is something you have to see on a real theater screen at least once... it's like you're on the ledge with Lloyd and it makes it twice as much thrilling.


    TedD: Who composed the organ scores? They were not in the press release, so were they added at the last minute? Not a bad idea, but when you have orchestral scores by Carl Davis and Robert Israel...
     
  15. Brian PB

    Brian PB Supporting Actor

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  16. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    This set is definitely an embarassment of riches. I was curious if anyone knew why it did not include Lloyd's first talkie (which was also released in a silent version), "Welcome Danger". Are the rights for this one held outside of the Harold Lloyd Trust?

    In any case, it could someday make for an interesting DVD release by itself including the talkie version, the released silent version, and the recently discovered original silent cut which pre-dates both released versions.

    BTW, if you purchase the box set from Best Buy, you get an additional CD inserted in the packaging with two episodes of the Harold Lloyd Comedy Theater. They are radio adaptations of "Boy Meets Girl" and "June Moon".

    Regards,
     
  17. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Great! Now the films will have TWO great scores to pick from.
     
  18. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    When was this discovered? When the released silent version played Cambridge this June, the implication was that the original was still lost.
     
  19. Jeffrey Nelson

    Jeffrey Nelson Screenwriter

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    The original silent version apparently no longer exists. The silent version released to theaters unequipped for sound is the version that was recently discovered, and is reportedly a hybrid of original silent footage and mute reshot talkie footage. And yes, the Trust still owns it; Suzanne Lloyd said in an interview with DVDTalk that she hopes to release it through New Line at some point, along with the extant Lonesome Lukes and the one-reelers.
     
  20. ScottLloyd

    ScottLloyd Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the review Mr. Harris. I just picked this up and look forward to viewing it. Has anyone listened to the bonus disc from Best Buy?
     

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