HAROLD LLOYD - THE SHORT FILMS
Region 2 (UK) Edition [Cinema Club, 2007]
Hal Roach and Uncredited Various
Lloyd, Snub Pollard, Bebe Daniels, William Blaisdell
Review by Andrew Smith
represents Cinema Club’s second offering of Harold Lloyd films, following
on from last years The Art of Harold Lloyd set. As with the
previous set, The Short Films presents us with a selection of
Lloyd’s lesser known early work. These shorts range from the very short
one-reelers of 1918, to the thirty and forty minute featurettes of the
early 1920s. The films are as follows:
Two Gun Gussie (1918, 10m33s)
Harold plays a piano player in an old western town who is mistaken for the
toughest, meanest gunslinger around. When he starts to believe in his own
reputation he find himself in deep trouble with the real bad guy.
Slicker (1918, 11m25s)
A country hotel calls in city slicker Harold to modernise business.
Non-Stop Kid (1918, 12m6s)
Harold falls for a girl but to get to her he must first get past the
suitor her father has chosen for her.
Ring Up The
Curtain (1919, 11m52s)
Harold is the only sober stage hand on the opening night of a vaudeville
theatre and must contend with stray dogs, loose snakes and an irate
manager to ensure the show goes on.
Kidd’s Kids (1920, 21m49s)
When his bride to be is whisked off to the Canary Islands by her battleaxe
mother The Boy (Lloyd) follows in hot pursuit.
To Mouth (1920, 21m25s)
The Boy (Lloyd) is down on his luck and living on the streets when he
crosses paths with a beautiful young heiress out to claim her rightful
Get Out And
Get Under (1920, 28m05s)
The Boy (Lloyd) has to make it to the opening of his new play in his new
High And Dizzy (1920, 27m43s)
A young doctor (Lloyd) finds his life gets more complicated after meeting
a young female patient with a predilection for sleepwalking.
Never (1921, 39m45s)
Harold meets his childhood sweetheart at the railroad station, she is now
a nanny with her boss’ child in tow. Things become hectic when Harold
boards the train without a ticket.
Present (1921, 38m49s)
A family who aspire to climb the social ladder convince The Boy to
impersonate the wealthy Lord Abernathy in order to further their scheme.
The shorts here, as is often the case with
public domain silent comedy collections, are a mixed bag. What is
interesting here is that we can see the progression of Lloyd’s screen
persona. The earliest shorts, while entertaining enough, are generic fare:
you can see Lloyd’s persona starting to take shape, and the ten minute
running times allow for little, if any, character development.
Still, there is a sense of a character
running through these shorts. Lloyd is the young, affable, good-natured
city dweller, although he can sometimes appear cocky. In both Two Gun
Gussie and The City Slicker he appears to be much more naïve
than his more mature go-getting self, but by the time we reach the early
1920s efforts he has become the assured man about town, to which modern
audiences are more accustomed. He is also the romantic lead in each of
these films. While this kind of formula may seem a little bland today the
simple premise of boy meets girl helps to quickly establish story and
As time progresses we see more of the
hair-raising stunts that we associate with Lloyd. In From Hand To Mouth
an on-foot chase scene provides him with the opportunity to show off
his acrobatic abilities, leaping over saloon doors and through street
level windows. Get Out And Under sees him jumping in and out of a
moving vehicle. Perhaps the ultimate stunts in this set are the rooftop
sleepwalking sequences that add peril to High and Dizzy, which
foreshadow Lloyd’s most famous feature film, Safety Last (1923).
One of the joys of watching silent film
comedy is spotting the many familiar supporting artists. Anyone familiar
with the films of Laurel and Hardy may be interested to see these, the
early films of comedian Snub Pollard and intertitle writer HM ‘Beanie’
Walter. Studio boss and comedy king Hal Roach also cut his teeth directing
these shorts which showcase the first star his studio guided towards fame
The following prints are presented in a
tinted form; From Hand To Mouth, Get Out And Get Under,
High And Dizzy, Now Or Never and Among Those Present.
The colour of the tint applied and changes to reflect mood and setting. I
am not sure as to whether this is the way these films were originally seen
but I do not believe the application of these tints is detrimental in any
These films fall into the category of public domain and this has proven a
mixed blessing in the past. The lack of copyright has increased the
exposure of Lloyd to audiences over the years but this also means that
many poor prints are in circulation resulting in many home video releases
presenting these shorts as battered, edited jumbles which do no justice to
the artistry of those involved with their creation.
Luckily for us Cinema Club release their
silent film catalogue in cooperation with Lobster Films France and MK2
releasing. Lobster Films has an excellent reputation of restoring archive
material and the films here are no exception.
The prints on offer here range from fair to
very good. At times they may appear worn but given the age and scarcity of
original film elements this is entirely forgivable. One can be guaranteed
that these transfers have been sources from the best existing elements
available to the producers. One film that does suffer more than others
however is Captain Kidd’s Kids. This transfer has obviously been patched
together from prints of varying quality. The reason for this is to
reinstate material cut from the higher quality prints and to present the
film in as complete a form as is possible.
Title cards have been digitally recreated
to ensure that they are legible and complete. While sometimes markedly
clearer than surrounding shots this does not distract from the overall
Video is encoded at a solid 6.95Mb/s
average across both dual layer disks with little or no evidence of
New piano scores have been composed and
performed by Donald Sosin specifically for this release. They are suitably
varied and fit the action well. Audio is presented in clear Dolby Digital
2.0 at a steady 192kps.
It should be noted that these same films,
as restored by Lobster Films France have been available on Region 1 DVD
for some time under the Kino Home Video label. I have yet to see, however,
a PAL release of Lobster/MK2 material that is not superior to its NTSC
counterpart. This may be due to the method of standards conversion used.
Nothing. This seems a shame given the all star treatment Cinema Club’s
earlier Buster Keaton releases have received.
As a relatively new convert to Lloyd I can honestly say this release has
convinced me to seek out more of his work. I can’t really give higher
praise than that. The lack of bonus features is a little disappointing but
this collection certainly presents these short films in the best manner