ICC #104 – Harold Lloyd Must Always Win
We discuss the third genius of Silent Comedy and his films Safety Last, The Freshman and Speedy.
Plus, a long conversation about Lloyd’s final picture: The Preston Sturges’ directed/Howard Hughes produced talkie The Sins of Harold Diddlebock.
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A boy (Harold Lloyd) moves to New York City to make enough money to support his loving girlfriend (Mildred Davis), but soon discovers that making it in the big city is harder than it looks. When he hears that a store manager will pay $1,000 to anyone who can draw people to his store, he convinces his friend, the “human fly,” (Bill Strother) to climb the building and split the profit with him. But when his pal gets in trouble with the law, he must complete the crazy stunt on his own.
Background The Freshman was Lloyd’s most successful silent film of the 1920s, and was hugely popular at the time of its release. It sparked a craze for college films that lasted well beyond the 1920s. Exteriors were filmed near the USC campus in Los Angeles. The game sequence was shot on the field at the Rose Bowl, and the crowd scenes were shot at halftime at California Memorial Stadium during the November 1924 Big Game between UC Berkeley and Stanford University. The football game sequence was reused by Lloyd and director Preston Sturges in Lloyd’s last film, The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (1947). The Freshman is widely considered one of Lloyd’s most hilarious, well-constructed films. It was one of Lloyd’s few films to remain widely available after the sound era, and Lloyd reissued the film (with cuts) and used extended scenes in compilation films of the 1960s. The DVD release of Lloyd’s films in 2004 includes the full, restored version as shown in the 1920s.
Let go from his job, unmarried and with little money in his pocket, Harold Diddlebock (Harold Lloyd) needs a life makeover. He receives one thanks to a powerful drink served by a bartender, which knocks him out. He awakens to discover that, in his drunken stupor, he’s purchased a struggling circus. He and his pal (Jimmy Conlin) try to unload it on some local fat cats, but Jackie the lion, one of the circus attractions who tags along, creates as much hysteria as interest among potential buyers.