Friday, March 11, 2005

DVD: Slapstick Symposium: The Harold Lloyd Collection

The good people at Kino Video had to make do with early, lesser known Lloyd films for this disc. The silent comedian’s family held on to the good stuff with an eye toward restoring luster to his reputation. I’m not sure how releasing a book of 3-D nude photographs taken by Lloyd fits into this plan, but maybe that’s why I’m not in public relations.

Among aficionados, Lloyd is known as the third great genius of silent film comedy along with Chaplin and Keaton. Lloyd’s comic persona was the least defined of the three, and also the most American. He generally played good-natured, put-upon young men whose faith in themselves and the system is ultimately rewarded.

That character found its greatest expression in later films like THE FRESHMAN. Here, it’s unformed enough to allow Lloyd to play shady types in “Are Crooks Dishonest?” and “His Royal Slyness.”

The films on the disc are a mixed bag. The longest and best known of the lot, “Grandma’s Boy,” beats its one joke to death and is a slog to sit through. But each movie contains at least one great gag, and “Bumping Into Broadway” and “Number, Please” are treats.

Several of the shorts were restored exclusively for this collection. I missed the artwork from the original title cards, and couldn’t help noticing that the new ones featured more typos.

Miscellaneous: Links

Years ago I read the book MAFIA COP by Louis Eppolito. It was about his life as an NYPD detective who had to endure suspicion because of his family’s involvement in organized crime. He eventually retired and became an actor, landing bit parts as hoodlums and working with Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen and David Lynch. I’d always get a charge when I saw his name in the credits.

And I still will, but for completely different reasons. Yesterday, Eppolito and his former partner were indicted in a racketeering conspiracy. They’re suspected of “taking part in eight murders on behalf of the Mafia – most while one or both were active members of the police force.”

The Times also offers this report on the troubles and triumphs of Fespaco, Africa’s premier film festival.