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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Seminara

Some Long Overdue Respect for Harold Lloyd

Updated: May 13, 2022

A few notes about the early silent comedies of Harold Lloyd, Bebe Daniels and Snub Pollard: historically, Harold Lloyd is never entirely given the respect I believe he deserves. These 150 (give or take) silent short comedies (one- and two-reelers) encapsulate the evolution of film comedy. Luckily, you can see a surprising number on Youtube, where you can get a feel for it. It starts as if they were three kids in a sandbox playing. But with each new release, Lloyd becomes more aware of the filmmaking. He develops as a character. Daniels becomes more confident and star-like. Pollard remains Pollard, fully formed perfection. The recipe becomes more flavorful. Their off-screen romancing may have been simply for publicity, a way to pique public interest in their frequent and comedic romancing on-screen.

The films display a genuine affection the romantic leads have for each other and an unmistakable sense of fun on the set. It could explain both the volume of their output and the fact that, even though they ended up romantically with different partners and living on different continents (she in England; he in the U.S.), they remained close friends to the very end of their lives. Interestingly, (Spooky music please) they both died in March 1971, eight days apart.

You'll note that their early reels reveal a Chaplinesque Harold Lloyd in the form of a character he labeled Lonesome Luke. After Charlie Chaplin complained about the similarity of Lonesome Luke to Chaplin's Tramp, Mr. Lloyd combed his hair, tidied up his clothes, put on a pair of glasses, and created the Harold Lloyd signature persona. The best way to compare who Lloyd was in world cinema in the 1920s is by pointing my magic finger at Tom Cruise in the 1980s. No one embodied the Reagan Era's can do like Tom Cruise. It took the Great Depression to derail Lloyd's popularity. Still, Cruise persists.

Harold Lloyd and Bebe Daniels' teamwork is not complete without discussing Harry "Snub" Pollard, who co-starred in each of the 147 short films Ms. Daniels and Mr. Lloyd made together. Mr. Pollard, like Harold Lloyd, usually portrays a likable character fraught with mishaps and missteps that often result in some slapstick comedic sequence. Unlike Mr. Lloyd, Snub Pollard never gets the girl, which is always and, of course, Ms. Daniels.

Bebe Daniels and Harold Lloyd pretty much retired from moviemaking by the late 1940s and were only occasionally seen in front of a camera after that time. The great Preston Sturges attempted to bring Harold Lloyd back to the big screen in, The Sin of Harold Diddlebock, 1947. (Recut by Howard Hughes - the bastard!-as Mad Wednesday, re-released in 1950, to crickets) Sturges uses the heroic climax of Lloyd's 1925 film, the Freshman, as the jumping-off point. We land twenty years later to see that Lloyd has not lived up to his character's immense early promise. He is still a junior executive. He is currently engaged to marry the youngest sister of six. He was engaged to each but refused to marry until he is successful in business. Success eludes him. Soon his current fiancée will tire of waiting and marry someone else.

At the start of the film, he loses his job. Harold Diddlebock loses everything. That's when Sturges brings back the old, can do! It's a ridiculous movie. I'm a big fan of The Sin of Harold Diddlebock and I cannot see why it didn't reignite his career, besides the fact that having two separate cuts of your film is never good. It has all the things you want in a Sturges film and all the things you would want in a Lloyd film - including some daredevilry involving a Lloyd walking a full-grown male lion on a leash throughout an office building. On the inside and the outside, twenty stories up! My only thought is that the world had moved on.

Snub Pollard continued a busy career in supporting roles as most notably the sidekick Pee Wee to singing cowboy Tex Ritter or, more usually, as one of a host of extras in well over 400 movies and TV shows. He died in January 1962, a few months before the release of his last on-screen appearance as a member of the crowd petitioning for statehood in John Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

Here is a list of their voluminous collaborations:

1. A Foozle at the Tee Party (1915 Short Film)

2. Bughouse Bellhops (1915 Short Film)

3. Tinkering with Trouble (1915 Short Film)

4. Giving Them Fits (1915 Short Film)

5. Peculiar Patients' Pranks (1915 Short Film)

6. Great While It Lasted (1915 Short Film)

7. Ragtime Snap Shots (1915 Short Film)

8. Lonesome Luke, Social Gangster (1915 Short Film)

9. Fresh from the Farm (1915 Short Film)

10. Ruses, Rhymes and Roughnecks (1915 Short Film)

11. Luke's Movie Muddle (1916 Short Film)

12. Luke, the Gladiator (1916)

13. Lonesome Luke Leans to the Literary (1916 Short Film)

14. Luke and the Bang-Tails (1916 Short Film)

15. Luke Joins the Navy (1916 Short Film)

16. Luke Foils the Villain (1916 Short Film)

17. Lonesome Luke, Circus King (1916 Short Film)

18. Luke Locates the Loot (1916 Short Film)

19. Luke, the Candy Cut-Up (1916 Short Film)

20. Luke's Late Lunchers (1916 Short Film)

21. Luke Lugs Luggage (1916 Short Film)

22. Luke's Newsie Knockout (1916 Short Film)

23. Luke's Double (1916 Short Film)

24. Luke and the Bomb Throwers (1916 Short Film)

25. Luke, the Chauffeur (1916 Short Film)

26. Luke's Speedy Club Life (1916 Short Film)

27. Lonesome Luke Lolls in Luxury (1916 Short Film)

28. Luke Pipes the Pippins (1916 Short Film)

29. Luke Does the Midway (1916 Short Film)

30. Luke's Fireworks Fizzle (1916 Short Film)

31. Luke Laughs Last (1916 Short Film)

32. Luke and the Rural Roughnecks (1916 Short Film)

33. Luke Rides Roughshod (1916 Short Film)

34. Luke's Society Mixup (1916 Short Film)

35. Luke's Fatal Flivver (1916 Short Film)

36. Luke, Patient Provider (1916 Short Film)

37. Luke's Preparedness Preparations (1916 Short Film)

38. Them Was the Happy Days! (1916 Short Film)

39. Luke's Shattered Sleep (1916 Short Film)

40. Luke, Crystal Gazer (1916 Short Film)

41. Luke and the Mermaids (1916 Short Film)

42. Luke's Lost Lamb (1916 Short Film)

43. Luke, Rank Impersonator (1916 Short Film)

44. Luke's Washful Waiting (1916 Short Film)

45. By the Sad Sea Waves (1917 Short Film)

46. All Aboard (1917 Short Film)

47. The Flirt (1917 Short Film)

48. Over the Fence (1917 Short Film)

49. The Big Idea (1917 Short Film)

50. Birds of a Feather (1917 Short Film)

51. Bliss (1917 Short Film)

52. Move On (1917 Short Film)

53. Lonesome Luke on Tin Can Alley (1917 Short Film)

54. Bashful (1917 Short Film)

55. Luke's Busy Day (1917 Short Film)

56. Lonesome Luke, Messenger (1917 Short Film)

57. Lonesome Luke's Wild Women (1917 Short Film)

58. Lonesome Luke's Honeymoon (1917 Short Film)

59. Clubs Are Trump (1917 Short Film)

60. Lonesome Luke's Lively Life (1917 Short Film)

61. Rainbow Island (1917 Short Film)

62. Lonesome Luke, Lawyer (1917 Short Film)

63. Pinched (1917 Short Film)

64. From Laramie to London (1917 Short Film)

65. We Never Sleep (1917 Short Film)

66. Love, Laughs and Lather (1917 Short Film)

67. Luke's Lost Liberty (1917 Short Film)

68. Stop! Luke! Listen! (1917 Short Film)

69. Lonesome Luke, Plumber (1917 Short Film)

70. Step Lively (1917 Short Film)

71. Lonesome Luke, Mechanic (1917 Short Film)

72. Luke's Trolley Troubles (1917 Short Film)

73. Luke Wins Ye Ladye Faire (1917 Short Film)

74. Lonesome Luke Loses Patients (1917 Short Film)

75. Lonesome Luke's Lovely Rifle (1917 Short Film)

76. It's a Wild Life (1918 Short Film)

77. Swing Your Partners (1918 Short Film)

78. Hey There (1918 Short Film)

79. The Non-Stop Kid (1918 Short Film)

80. Why Pick on Me? (1918 Short Film)

81. Are Crooks Dishonest? (1918 Short Film)

82. An Ozark Romance (1918 Short Film)

83. Look Pleasant, Please (1918 Short Film)

84. Take a Chance (1918 Short Film)

85. The City Slicker (1918 Short Film)

86. Sic' Em, Towser (1918 Short Film)

87. Here Come the Girls (1918 Short Film)

88. Two-Gun Gussie (1918 Short Film)

89. A Gasoline Wedding (1918 Short Film)

90. Fireman Save My Child (1918 Short Film)

91. Hear 'Em Rave (1918 Short Film)

92. Pipe the Whiskers (1918 Short Film)

93. Hit Him Again (1918 Short Film)

94. On the Jump (1918 Short Film)

95. Kicked Out (1918 Short Film)

96. Nothing But Trouble (1918 Short Film)

97. Beat It (1918 Short Film)

98. Bees in His Bonnet (1918 Short Film)

99. The Lamb (1918 Short Film)

100. Kicking the Germ Out of Germany (1918 Short Film)

101. The Tip (1918 Short Film)

102. Somewhere in Turkey (1918 Short Film)

103. Two Scrambled (1918 Short Film)

104. Follow the Crowd (1918 Short Film)

105. Let's Go (1918 Short Film)

106. She Loves Me Not (1918 Short Film)

107. Bride and Gloom (1918 Short Film)

108. That's Him (1918 Short Film)

109. The Marathon (1919 Short Film)

110. Ask Father (1919 Short Film)

111. Billy Blazes, Esq. (1919 Short Film)

112. Bumping Into Broadway (1919 Short Film)

113. Just Neighbors (1919 Short Film)

114. I'm on My Way (1919 Short Film)

115. Going! Going! Gone! (1919 Short Film)

116. Captain Kidd's Kids (1919 Short Film)

117. Young Mr. Jazz (1919 Short Film)

118. On the Fire (1919 Short Film)

119. Pay Your Dues (1919 Short Film)

120. Si, Senor (1919 Short Film)

121. A Jazzed Honeymoon (1919 Short Film)

122. Spring Fever (1919 Short Film)

123. Ring Up the Curtain (1919 Short Film)

124. Don't Shove (1919 Short Film)

125. His Only Father (1919 Short Film)

126. Chop Suey & Co. (1919 Short Film)

127. Count Your Change (1919 Short Film)

128. Off the Trolley (1919 Short Film)

129. Never Touched Me (1919 Short Film)

130. A Sammy in Siberia (1919 Short Film)

131. Look Out Below (1919 Short Film)

132. He Leads, Others Follow (1919 Short Film)

133. Pistols for Breakfast (1919 Short Film)

134. Next Aisle Over (1919 Short Film)

135. The Rajah (1919 Short Film)

136. At the Old Stage Door (1919 Short Film)

137. Soft Money (1919 Short Film)

138. Heap Big Chief (1919 Short Film)

139. Just Dropped In (1919 Short Film)

140. Wanted – $5,000 (1919 Short Film)

141. Before Breakfast (1919 Short Film)

142. Count the Votes (1919 Short Film)

143. Back to the Woods (1919 Short Film)

144. Crack Your Heels (1919 Short Film)

145. Swat the Crook (1919 Short Film)

146. The Dutiful Dub (1919 Short Film)

147. Be My Wife (1919 Short Film)

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