It was totally on accident that I discovered the silent movies of Harold Lloyd. I was over at Cha-Chee and Chi-Chi's place, and turned on the second half of Hot Water, leaving it on mainly to make fun of it. But everyone who was there loved it immediately, and we were even more blown away by The Kid Brother. Since then, I've waited with eager anticipation for this month's Harold Lloyd festival on TCM.
It's hard to explain why he's so funny. He just has an amazing sense of comic timing. I think the closest modern equivalent to Lloyd would be Jackie Chan. Both use the objects in the environment around them to their fullest potential to create effortlessly comical (and astounding) scenes. His character is also immediately likeable... sort of a perpetual underdog who nevertheless is clever enough to overcome his troubles.
Anyhow, last night after returning home from Easter, Dave and I sat down and watched Girl Shy, a Lloyd flick about a stuttering tailor's apprentice who gets extremely nervous around girls. The plot's not really important for this story though. Suffice it to say that for the last 20 minutes, there's a daredevil race scene where Harold hi-jacks several cars, a trolley, a horse, a motorcycle and numerous other such things.
Before the movie, there was a little chat with Suzanne Lloyd, Harold's granddaughter. As she has before every picture they've shown, she pointed something out, and said "and that was the first time that anyone had ever done that in film." This time, it was filming from a manhole, I think.
As the chase-scene progresses, her comment makes me think about something. I turn to Dave and say "I wonder when the first time someone ran into a chicken coup during a movie chase scene was? I mean, that would be a pretty influential moment." Dave is like "Personally, I wonder what the first movie to feature running into a fruit-vendor's cart during a chase was. That's important cinema."
5 minutes pass as Harold leaps from vehicle to vehicle and in general does extremely dangerous, yet hilarious things.
And then it happens...
He smashes into a fruit cart. HOLY SHIT. There it was, probably the first fruit-cart smash ever. I was now beginning to understand what the interviewer before the movie meant when he referred to this chase sequence as "important". After my tears from howling laughter had been wiped away, I said something like "Now, if there's a chicken coup incident, it's all over."
Two minutes later, Lloyd's motocycle runs into a shop and comes out covered in chickens.
And that is why the man is a genius. The "Dukes of Hazzard" would be a far different show if it hadn't been for Harold Lloyd and Girl Shy.