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HAROLD LLOYD'S WORLD OF COMEDY

It's a bird! It's a plane! No, that's Harold Lloyd scaling office skyscrapers, racing atop moving trains, and famously dangling from the hands of a giant clock over a bustling city street. The legendary bespectacled silent film comedian was known for his hair-raising film stunts, visually driven gag sequences and plucky go-getter "glasses" character that was always seeking to get ahead in life, often at great risk to life and limb. No matter what kind of peril in which his character found himself immersed, however, Lloyd's films always exuded heart, humility and plenty of personality, which placed him squarely among Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton as one of the silent era's all-time greats.

Harold Lloyd's World of Comedy (1962) is a riotous compilation film assembled from some of Lloyd's funniest and most thrilling cinematic sequences throughout his prolific and highly successful 30+ year career. Lloyd himself personally produced and supervised the lively hand-picked selection of clips from his greatest films (both silent and sound) including Safety Last! (1923), Why Worry? (1923), Hot Water (1924), Girl Shy (1924) , The Freshman (1925), and Movie Crazy (1932).

When Harold Lloyd's World of Comedy was released in 1962, Lloyd had not made a theatrical film since 1947's The Sin of Harold Diddlebock, written and directed by Preston Sturges. Even though Lloyd had made the leap to talking pictures when sound came along, the heyday of the silent film comedy style had gradually given way to more modern cinematic fare. Lloyd, a shrewd businessman, had been wise enough to maintain ownership and control over his own films and had preserved them in excellent condition over the years. He had resisted having his films shown on television, fearing that they would be compromised by excessive editing and commercial breaks. As a result, Lloyd's films were not easily available at the time and had gone unseen for decades. Releasing Harold Lloyd's World of Comedy provided a new way for Lloyd to introduce an entirely new generation to his work and remind older fans of his comedic genius.

At age 69, and as genial and spry as ever, Lloyd premiered Harold Lloyd's World of Comedy at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival to an enthusiastic crowd of admirers. When the film opened in the U.S. soon after, Lloyd energetically promoted it and was delighted to find his work embraced by young and old alike. "They react to it practically the same as when I made it first," he told Harry Reasoner in a television interview at the time. In his review for the New York Times critic Bosley Crowther said, "For the thing about which there is no question is the evidence served up that Mr. Lloyd was a wonderfully skillful and appealing comedian in the days of his most prolific output of silent and early talking films - a comedian of joyous elasticity and boundless inventiveness. And the quality of his frantic humor has not withered or staled with the years. It is as dazzling today as ever, whether one is seeing him freshly or reminiscently."

There is no question that Lloyd's unique brand of comedy transcends the many years since the days of silent cinema. Harold Lloyd's World of Comedy not only reminds audiences of his innovative comic genius, but also inspires them to revisit all of his marvelous films in their entirety.

The response to Harold Lloyd's World of Comedy was so positive that Lloyd followed it up with another compilation film called Harold Lloyd's Funny Side of Life in 1966. These two films kept Lloyd's body of work fresh in the minds of new audiences and helped secure his place in cinematic history alongside Chaplin and Keaton as one of the "Big Three" silent film comedians whose hilarious work will be enjoyed for generations to come.

By Andrea Passafiume

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