Welcome to the Memorial Film Collection of Harold Lloyd
Harold Lloyd may have passed away in the distant past, but thanks to an enthralling, good old invention called Film, he will never be really gone.
Whenever you feel like traveling back in time to meet the Guy with the Glasses, to witness his thrilling stunts and humor, all you have to do, is watching one (or more) of his movies.
But which ones should you watch?
Well, if that’s the very question lurking in your mind right now, then you came to the right place. We’re just about to present the 10 Best Movies of Harold Lloyd.
If this is your first ride on the time-travelling FrameTrek Wagon, here’s what this is all about:
We choose a topic, in this case: “Best Movies of Harold Lloyd”, and we set sail for a journey, where the bricks of the trek are made of movie frames, and each stop represents a magnificent achievement in Film.
The Best Movies of Harold Lloyd is an episode of FrameTrek’s Hall of Legends: A mega-journey dedicated to identify the greatest artists of World Cinema, and their most significant works.
Meet Harold Lloyd, the Guy with the Glasses
(1893 – 1971)
Harold Lloyd was one of the most influential film artists of the Silent Era. He was an actor, comedian, stunt performer, and at one point, one of the 10 richest entertainers in the world.
Lloyd’s bespectacled on-screen character embodies the all-American, strong-willed, young go-getter. He wants to succeed in life and refuses to retreat, no matter what crazy obstacle stands in his way.
He would risk everything to achieve his goals, including life and limb. This mentality gets him into extreme situations, of course, so he is often forced to perform daredevil physical feats to get out of trouble.
The more trouble you get a man into, the more comedy you get out of him.Harold Lloyd
His movies are filled with humorous chase scenes and thrilling sequences, yet his bespectacled character doesn’t ever seem to run out of energy.
Many of these dangerous stunts were performed by Lloyd himself, which is amazing considering he had no thumb and index finger on his right hand.
He lost them in 1919 from a bomb that he mistook for a prop, while doing publicity photos. A special prosthetic glove disguises this injury in his films.
Lloyd realized he could be totally unrecognizable for the public simply by taking off his famed glasses, which were in fact a pair of sunglasses with the lenses removed.
Lloyd and his Glasses character were the visual inspiration for Superman’s clumsy, bespectacled alter ego Clark Kent, when they outlined the very first Superman comic book illustrations back in 1938.
So yeah, there’s plenty to talk about, when it comes to Harold Lloyd, but this article concentrates on his Top 10 Films, so let’s cut to the chase, shall we?
After all, an actor is as good as his greatest achievements. Thus, the finest way to familiarize yourself with Lloyd, is through watching his best films as a marathon.
Ready? Buckle up then, and let the best movies of Harold Lloyd carry you to the cinematic lands of slapstick comedy!See FrameTrek's definition of 'Best' and the story behind this List (click to expand) ↴
How to define ‘Best’?
That’s a pretty good question, since ‘Best’ is relative. A movie can be considered being among the best for multiple reasons, such as: Critical Acclaim, Audience Feedback, Box Office Performance, Awards and Nominations, Iconic Status, Popularity, Watchability, and even Personal Preference, or for being part of a famous list such as the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die or Roger Ebert’s The Great Movies list – or because that particular movie defined its era, or because it was a defining achievement of the artist(s) involved.
So how did we pick the Top 10 Movies of Harold Lloyd?
Well, it wasn’t simple, and it wasn’t easy! Harold Lloyd headlined so many excellent films, that it’s almost impossible to build a “Top 10 List”, without leaving some of his great movies out of the spotlight. We did our best though.
While composing the Best Films of Harold Lloyd list, we tried to consider all of the factors mentioned in the ‘How to define Best’ paragraph above, and then some.
We believe that the movies that made the cut should not compete with one another any further, so we will just present them in the order they were released in.
If you watch these movies in a chronological order, you will embark on a cinematic journey through Harold Lloyd’s life, following him from the start of his career to the end.
Presenting the 10 Best Films of Harold Lloyd
Story: A well-meaning man dangles an engagement ring outside the window of the girl next door. Hilarity ensues. (Amazon)
This was Lloyd’s last short film, before he moved permanently into feature-length production.
Why is Never Weaken among the best movies of Harold Lloyd?
✓ Its one of his trademark ‘thrill’ comedies, featuring him dangling from a tall building.
Story: A meek young man must find the courage within when a rogue tramp menaces his home town. (IMDB)
Harold Lloyd’s first feature-length film.
Why is Grandma’s Boy among the best films of Harold Lloyd?
✓ It was a highly influential film, helping to pioneer feature-length comedies which combined gags with character development.
✓ It was an immensely popular, commercially successful film, now considered a classic silent comedy.
Story: Glasses, the store clerk talks his manager into offering $1000 for a publicity stunt, in which a man called “human fly” would climb the face of the 12-storey store building, thus bringing customers nearby.
Persuasive enough to give audiences acrophobia when they aren’t laughing at Harold Lloyd’s antics, Safety Last! is a marvel of visual effects and slapstick comedy.Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus
✪ Harold Lloyd tested the safety precautions for the clock stunt by dropping a dummy onto the mattress below. It bounced off the roof and plummeted to the street below. He still persisted on not using a stunt double…
Why is Safety Last! among the top movies of Harold Lloyd?
✓ It features one of the most memorable scenes of the Silent Era (Lloyd hanging from the hour hand). There is no fake background, and the height is real, although trick-photography was used.
✓ The Library of Congress selected Safety Last! for preservation in the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ Included in Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
Story: A hypochondriac vacations in the tropics for the fresh air – and finds himself in the middle of a revolution instead. (IMDB)
✪ Harold Lloyd married his former co-star Mildred Davis while this film was in production. Their marriage lasted till the end.
Why is Why Worry? among the top films of Harold Lloyd?
✓ It was very popular with audiences upon release and received widespread praise from contemporary reviewers. Now it is considered a classic silent comedy.
Story: A shy, young man, who is completely incapable of talking to women, decides to write a book that details to other bachelors how to find a girlfriend. (IMDB)
This is Lloyd’s first film produced by his own production company.
Why is Girl Shy among the greatest movies of Harold Lloyd?
✓ Notable for containing fewer stunts, and instead focusing more on the relationship between the main characters.
✓ The lengthy finale of the film is one of the most exhilarating, non-stop action sequences of Lloyd’s career.
Story: A nerdy college student will do anything to become popular on campus. (IMDB)
✪ Harold Lloyd was reluctant to star as a college boy because he was already 31 years old, and considered himself too old for the role. Despite this, the movie became Lloyd’s biggest box-office hit ever.
Why is The Freshman among the greatest films of Harold Lloyd?
✓ It was hugely popular at the time of its release, and it is widely considered one of Lloyd’s most hilarious and well-constructed films.
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”
✓ Credited as being the very first “sports” movie ever produced, and as such, it inspired many college and sports themed movies of the future.
Story: An irresponsible young millionaire changes his tune when he falls for the daughter of a downtown minister. (IMDB)
Why is For Heaven’s Sake among the best silent movies of Harold Lloyd?
✓ Commercially, it was one of Lloyd’s most successful films and the 12th highest-grossing film of the Silent Era. Also, it is now considered a classic comedy.
Story: A sheriff’s milquetoast son has a chance to prove himself when a medicine show run by con artists comes into town. (IMDB)
Harold Lloyd has stated multiple times that this is his personal favorite of all the movies he ever made.
Why is The Kid Brother among the best silent films of Harold Lloyd?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
✓ It was successful and popular upon release and today is considered by critics and fans to be one of Lloyd’s best films, integrating elements of comedy, romance, drama, and character development.
Story: Harold “Speedy” Swift, a fan of Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees, saves from extinction the city’s last horse-drawn trolley, operated by his girlfriend’s grandfather. (IMDB)
This was Harold Lloyd’s last silent film to be released theatrically.
✪ There is a scene where Lloyd gives the middle finger to his distorted reflection in the mirror. This is considered the very first motion picture depiction of that gesture.
Story: A mild-mannered clerk loses his job and ends up at his local bar with his life’s savings in his trouser pocket. The rest of the evening is a strange and hilarious rampage involving a lion, among other things.
This is Harold Lloyd’s last movie.
The end of Harold Lloyd’s Story
Just as for most silent stars, the dawn of talking pictures posed a great challenge for Harold Lloyd. He made the shift, but his talkies were not as successful as his silent features. Lloyd’s popularity slowly faded during the 1930s.
He decided to retire from the movie business and dedicate his time to his hobbies and new interests, such as colors, microscopy, and photography, including 3D.
Lloyd became known for taking nude photographs of models and personal pictures of Hollywood stars such as Marilyn Monroe, among others.
Although he retired, he faced no financial difficulties as he retained the copyright control of most of his films and re-released them every now and then.
He lived as a king in his Beverly Hills home, called “Greenacres,” which had 44 rooms, 26 bathrooms, 12 fountains, 12 gardens, and a nine-hole golf course.
Lloyd passed away in 1971 at age 77 due to prostate cancer and was interred in a crypt in the Great Mausoleum.
If you’d like to dig deeper into the story of Harold Lloyd, you may want to read Harold Lloyd: Magic in a Pair of Horn-Rimmed Glasses by Annette D’Agostino Lloyd.
…end of the reel…
So there you have it: The 10 Greatest Films of Harold Lloyd
If you want to take a look at the movies listed above, without all that info between the titles, here’s a quick recap:
Legacy Collection of the Guy with the Glasses
|Never Weaken (1921)|
|Grandma’s Boy (1922)
|Safety Last! (1923)
|Why Worry? (1923)
|Girl Shy (1924)
|The Freshman (1925)
*Part of the Collection: Harold Lloyd’s Freshman Duology
|For Heaven’s Sake (1926)
|The Kid Brother (1927)
|The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (1947)
*Part of the Collection: Harold Lloyd’s Freshman Duology
Is there a movie on the list you’d replace with another one? Share your thoughts below.
Are You in Love with Silent Comedy?
Check out FrameTrek’s Little Black Book of Silent Laughter
It presents the life stories of the the top three comedians of the Silent Era, their greatest achievements, and a few, little known facts about their private life, work and style.
…available on Amazon both as eBook and Paperback…