Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Who's heard of Harold Lloyd?

You've heard of Charlie Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy, and Buster Keaton, right?

How about Harold Lloyd?

Every summer I go on a silent movie binge, usually comedy, and usually Chaplin and Keaton. After working through all their films I moved on to Laurel and Hardy this summer. When that supply was exhausted, I came across a mention of Harold Lloyd, a comedy genius who in terms of output and financial success, superseded even Charlie Chaplin.

By all accounts Lloyd was a surprisingly normal and kindly fellow who happened to be one of the great masters of humor in his day. Today he's best known for Safety Last (1923), especially the famous scene in which he climbs to the top of a building and dangles precariously from the hands of a massive clock far above a bustling city.

(Can you make it through the final scene without squirming in your chair or pausing the film? I couldn't!)

Look closely and you'll note something odd with his right hand. Lloyd lost two fingers and part of the palm during an accident four years earlier when he was handed a real bomb instead of a fake prop during a photo shoot. In subsequent films he wore a stuffed glove to hide this disfigurement. And despite this handicap he amazingly did almost all his own stunts.

Source: IMBd

When you've worked through Safety Last and some of his other films, take a look at the documentary of his life produced as part of the American Masters series from PBS. Unfortunately this has yet to be released on DVD, but depending on where you live, you can watch it on YouTube:


  1. Hooray for Harold Lloyd....Harold Lloyd.
    I LOVED watching Harold, on a wed eve at my grans.

    I read that he was the first to do the stunt of hanging from a highrise building ( such as the clock) with a safety platform below, which opened up those type of stunts as it was then safer.

    Thanks for the reminder of a great actor, stunt man and comic

    1. You are fortunate to have known about Harold Lloyd for so long. I feel like I've been missing out this whole time, but the upside is that now I have a wealth of new films to work through this summer!

      So at your grandma's did you watch the TV show made in the 60s (I think)?

      Hard to believe actors were filming dangerous highrise scenes without some sort of safety net! I found this post on a blog about silent movies that has some pictures of the type of models probably used: How Harold Lloyd Filmed Safety Last!

  2. I love Harold Lloyd. My mom found a dvd box-set with many of his films and we've been watching them all summer :)


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