Harold Lloyd: Magic in a Pair of Horn-Rimmed Glasses and Other Turning Points in the Life and Career of a Comedy Legend (英語) ペーパーバック – 2009/9/30
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Voted "Best Book of 2009" by Classic Images magazine! You know the films. You know the characters. You may even know the man behind the glasses. But do you really know the events and happenings that most changed Harold Lloyd? That define him? The turning points in his life and career? From birth to death, Harold Lloyd grew and evolved because of the things that were happening around him, and he was always aware of the importance of these events. These are the turning points that fashioned the magic . . . the coin flip that got him to California . . . meeting a fellow extra at Universal by the name of Hal Roach . . . creating his revolutionary Glass Character . . . a death-defying bomb accident . . . patenting his legendary thrill comedies . . . building his Greenacres . . . making a too-quick leap into sound . . . taking perpetual control of his films . . . deciding to raise his granddaughter . . . leaving two film compilations for posterity . . . not allowing his films to be aired on early television . . . winning his Oscar. Friends, family, and Harold Lloyd himself, together with author Annette D'Agostino Lloyd, tell the story that gives us a clear picture of this comedy legend.
The qualities of the man behind the glasses and the films he made in this important period of screen history are what Annette Lloyd focuses on with every turning point in his life, and this man had his turning points. The book is handsomely illustrated with photographs and several pages of "fun facts," some of which are at times actually serious topics such as the reactions by Chinese students seeing Welcome Danger for the first time in China. This is an excellent book for new fans of Harold Lloyd (his star is rising again!) and old fans as well. Even if you know some of these stories about Harold Lloyd, the writing here makes well-known turning points, such as the fateful bomb incident of Sunday, August 24, 1919, fresh and alive all over again.
There are new things to learn about Harold. One highlight is a "fun fact" involving a piece written by Harold for Playboy Magazine, but was never published. It turns out that Harold was a very clever, enterprising young boy. He sold popcorn at a train station in Nebraska, and he worked out a way to sell popcorn to passengers while a vendor who claimed exclusive rights to selling food to the passengers entered at an opposite end of the train. It's a good story and illustrates Harold's initiative and drive to succeed. It was a quality he had all his life, before, during and after his film career.
One particularly fascinating section is the chapter "Harold Lloyd releases The Freshman." Harold's fantastic college comedy, his great hit of 1925, actually came very close to being a lost classic. There was a law suit brought against Harold by a man who claimed that the story of The Freshman was taken from his 1915 story. On the surface, the summary of what this story is about does not sound at all like the Lloyd film. But a judgment against Harold's film company nearly led to the film being destroyed and never seen again. Thankfully, an appeals court overturned the earlier decision which is why Harold will forever be our beloved "Freshman." In 1990, The Freshman was added to National Film Registry, the first Lloyd film to be so honored.
When Harold's film career came to an end, he didn't stop. Actually, one could say he really took off in lots of new directions, for Harold Lloyd had about as many hobbies as his life had turning points. One notable hobby was photography, in particular, 3-D photography. He also excelled in nude shots of women. I have one of the recently published books of his female nudes. The photos are just as beautiful as the women. Harold, the director, the storyteller, is quite evident in these photos. Attention to lighting, framing, composition within the frame is immediately evident.
Another area of interest was microscopes. What a pleasure it is to learn that Harold Lloyd discovered a cure for the Black Widow Spider plague in the 1930s. He and his brother-in-law, Jack Davis, discovered a wasp from Texas that the Black Widow Spider was vulnerable to. Thanks to Harold, the Black Widow plague came to an end.
There are many more equally interesting stories to be found in the turning points in Harold Lloyd's life, and we are most thankful for Annette D'Agostino Lloyd's excellent new book for bringing them to the foreground, and for doing it in such a delightful way. The book has an excellent bibliography covering not only the books written on Harold and books with substantial mentions of Harold, but also articles by Harold Lloyd or about him. The book also includes the most up-to-date filmography of Harold Lloyd in print. Highly recommended.