Harold Lloyd stars in the 1923 film, ‘Safety Last.’ .
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Harold Lloyd was one of the great comic geniuses of 20th century cinema and his work will be the subject of a retrospective that runs from the beginning of April until the 12th at the Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa cinematheques.
“Lloyd has really suffered in the sense that people are always trying to rank movie stars, and when they think of silent movie greats, they think of Chaplin and Keaton and Lloyd has fallen through the cracks.
But Harold Lloyd has been called ‘the third genius.’ He deserves to be part of that triumvirate of greats,” says Jay Weissberg, a movie critic for Variety and an expert on Lloyd’s work, who will be giving talks at all the cinematheques. Israeli filmmaker Alon Gur Arye will also speak at the Wacky Film Club in Haifa.
Although Lloyd is best known for his silent films, he was a very prolific filmmaker and made over 200 movies between 1914 and 1947.
When his later films didn’t do so well, “he withdrew them from circulation and it became very difficult to see them,” says Weissberg.
But now his best-known classics are available and will be screened here. Safety Last! (1923) is probably his most famous film, and it contains the iconic sequence in which he scales a building and has to hang on to a clock many stories above the ground.
“Lloyd’s stardom showed you didn’t have to play an eccentric character to be funny,” says Weissberg. “He was just an optimistic go-getter.”
Weissberg is particularly fond of Grandma’s Boy (1922). “It’s his second feature, and it has one of the most brilliant candy-mothball gags ever.”
Among the other silent classics in the retrospective will be The Freshman (1925), The Kid Brother (1927), and Speedy (1928).
The Harold Lloyd talkies in the retrospective include Feet First (1930), Movie Crazy (1932), and The Milky Way (1936).
“With Lloyd in particular and silent movies in general, you need to watch the movies, with an audience, on the big screen,” says Weissberg. “You have to laugh with an audience.” And with this retrospective, Israeli audiences will get a rare opportunity to do just that.