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Region 2 (UK) Edition  [Cinema Club, 2007]

Director:  Hal Roach and Uncredited Various

Starring: Harold Lloyd, Snub Pollard, Bebe Daniels, William Blaisdell

Review by Andrew Smith


This release 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:

Disk One

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.

The City Slicker  (1918, 11m25s)
A country hotel calls in city slicker Harold to modernise business.

The 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.

Captain 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.

From Hand 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 inheritance.

Get Out And Get Under    (1920, 28m05s)
The Boy (Lloyd) has to make it to the opening of his new play in his new automobile.

Disk Two

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.

Now Or 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.

Among Those 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 motivation.

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 and fortune.

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 way.


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 viewing experience.

Video is encoded at a solid 6.95Mb/s average across both dual layer disks with little or no evidence of artifacting.

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.

Bonus Material

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 possible.

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