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The Harold Lloyd Definitive Collection - It has been a while coming, but well worth the wait!
on 20 August 2010
If you mention silent film comedians today, most people will immediately think of Charlie Chaplin, closely followed by Buster Keaton. But in the 1920's there was a third big name who was commercially more successful than either - the wonderful Harold Lloyd.
Unfortunately Lloyd kept a very tight reign on the distribution rights for his films, fearing that improper useage would impair his reputation. This meant that whilst Keaton and Chaplin films were freely available long after their filmmaking days had ended, keeping their names alive in the public conscious, the initially successful Harold Lloyd started to drop right off the radar. Which is a shame as he was wonderfully talented and made some absolutely hilarious films with his brand of physical and visual comedy. Not as depressing as Chaplin, or slapstick as Keaton he had a style all of his own which had more of a classy, intelligent feel to it.
Like most other people here I discovered Lloyd through a television series in the late `80s, during my school holidays. They were a revelation, and I wanted to see more. But they were never repeated, and there were no video releases that I could find. There have been some sporadic DVD releases, but never anything that has done the man and his art justice. They often had odd music, bad restoration, incorrect running speeds and cropping that really made Lloyds fears about poor representation of his work seem justified.
Now, finally, this magnificent set has been produced. Overseen by Suzanne Lloyd, Harold's granddaughter, it is a marvel. It contains, I think, all of Lloyd's surviving silent films (sadly many were lost in a fire at his house in 1943) and five of his seven talkies. The films are listed in other reviews which I will not repeat. The restoration on each is a wonder to behold. The image on some seems so sharp and clear it looks as though it was filmed yesterday. The usual annoying jumps, jerks and blemishes have been taken out, and the films run at their correct speed. Added to this are the sympathetic scores from Carl Davis and Robert Israel. Much care has been taken with each score to match the mood and pace of the action on screen, and these really do add immeasurably to the viewing enjoyment.
The 29 films are presented on 9 discs in slimline cases, all held in a sturdy card slipcase. There is a wealth of extras on the discs, commentaries, documentaries and the like which I have not had a chance to view yet. An added bonus is in the case of disc one - 6 prints of photos of Marilyn Monroe taken by Lloyd, who was a keen photographer.
This is an excellent set, and one that finally does the great man justice. 5 stars, no hesitation.