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Monday, January 20, 2020

Catching Up To A Good One


The Milky Way (1936) Should Have Been a Harold Lloyd Comeback


A first revelation of 2020, and proof of how you can assume something for almost a lifetime, then find you were utterly wrong. I long mistook The Milky Way for Harold Lloyd in decline, and so ducked it. Then happenstance led to this best of his talkies, (1) a laudatory review by Otis Ferguson from 1936, and (2) a Lou Lumenick link to Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood, a 1960 TV special where the gossip queen visits Lloyd estate "Greenacres." Approach to mansion and grounds is via lengthy and private road, much like Mandalay, 1960 way past capacity of anyone to construct such splendor for themselves. Imagine up-keeping house/grounds by new era of tax and expense that was 60’s run-up to Lloyd’s passing in 1974.  I’ve read the place was headed for seed by then … did HL regret upsize from which he could not downsize?


Top Cartoon Artists Here, Above, Below, Commissioned to Ad-Promote The Milky Way


Paramount In Bed with Borden in a Big Way on Milky Way Behalf


Ferguson, writing for The New Republic (2/26/36), called The Milky Way “up-to-the-minute in construction, the work of many hands, all laid on expertly,” this in contrast to “one-man show” Modern Times he had reviewed one week before. If Ferguson liked The Milky Way so much (“… very near the top for screen comedy”), shouldn’t I at least, and at long last, get out the DVD to watch? Forgot was The Milky Way being PD and so compromised visually. William K. Everson had shown it in 16mm at the New School (6-84), described The Milky Way as a “lost film” for forty years up to that time, “viewable only rarely at one or two archives throughout the world.” Everson maintained Lloyd’s as comedy that needed crowds to click. I’d not disagree, but would add that I laughed plentiful at The Milky Way, despite being alone with it. Help for Harold from a game cast is a first-for-him asset, the star not sole vessel for gags, which by the way are as many verbal as visual, and sharp in the bargain. I lit up wherever Veree Teasdale spoke, her droll commentary on events a plus not typical of vehicles for a star-comedian. Busy scenes have feel of spontaneity the signature of directing Leo McCarey, who did lots for comedy starting out, and kept doing so for a run past forty years.






I’d like to report The Milky Way was a hit, but according to Annette Lloyd in her excellent Harold Lloyd Encyclopedia, the film cost $1,032,798.21 to make, and got back $1,179,192 in worldwide rentals. Resulting loss was $250K. This happened to be the same amount, according to Variety (4/17/35), that Lloyd received up front from Paramount for doing the picture, plus profit participation (none had). The Milky Way was a first occasion in twelve years of Lloyd doing a picture for hire, good for him as this would be Paramount’s risk and not that of his own corporation. Proviso, however: “Paramount will have full supervision,” said Motion Picture Daily (3/16/35). Based on a Broadway play, rights for which Paramount paid $40K, The Milky Way ran to near the expense of Chaplin’s Modern Times, which cost $1.1 million, the two comedies head-to-head in many situations, but unlike his closest rival of silent days, Chaplin leapt to $4.1 million in worldwide rentals, and for a film with no spoken dialogue. Effort on Lloyd’s behalf to freshen his formula would go unrewarded, and never mind how good a picture The Milky Way turned out to be. You had to wonder, as Harold undoubtedly did, if its failure amounted to rejection of his screen self, a public indifferent no matter the quality of Lloyd output. Professor Beware of two years later would drive the nail deeper. It looked like time for Harold Lloyd as a performer to quit.






Such was initial confidence in The Milky Way that Paramount, according to Variety (10/30/35), offered Lloyd another feature on the same terms ($250K with a %), and there was an English company wanting him, plus a vehicle Lloyd had in development for his own shingle. Press and previews were bullish for The Milky Way. Paramount submitted review ads to trades. A deal was set for Lloyd to do what emerged as Professor Beware. Paramount owned the negatives for The Milky Way and Professor Beware, but sold the first to Samuel Goldwyn for a 40’s remake with Danny Kaye. This effectively buried The Milky Way, which did not make it into MCA’s television package of pre-49 Paramounts, since Goldwyn now had custody of the film. “Hollywood anecdotes,” as relayed by the UCLA Film Archive when they restored and ran The Milky Way (3/16/15), said Goldwyn “had the original negative and almost all existing prints of The Milky Way destroyed when he bought the rights to remake the film.” UCLA used Harold Lloyd’s own safety dupe negative “made from his original nitrate print which had been vaulted at the Archive many years before” to do their restoration of The Milky Way. Remarkable how the fate of a major comedy hung on such a slender thread. Imagine if Lloyd’s nitrate had somehow been lost (he had at least one vault fire at Greenacres), leaving The Milky Way to mercy of PD-DVD off 16mm.


Yes, They Brought Women on Stage to Speed-Milk Cows For Cash Reward




I had sampled The Milky Way long ago, its unpromising start, where Harold’s a least competent of milk men gathered before the big boss. I switched off on conviction that Lloyd should never be a mere bumbler. To the contrary, there was no one so adept at putting adversity to rout. It seemed Buster/Elmer from MGM had bled over to a recast Harold, and I wanted none of it, nor him bullied by dumb-ox pugilists, the champ knocked cold by chance for which Harold gets credit. The set-up, then, is Lloyd buffeted by complication he lacks resource to overcome. We must wait for him to act on wits, knowing from twenty years of Harold Lloyd that wherewithal is there, if latent. Nothing was so delicate an instrument as a Great Comedian. To betray a particle of his being is to inflict wound upon him, and more profoundly, us. Too much of that came on wings of sound, or change in fashion that clowns were told to adjust to. The Milky Way was someone else’s creation, more ominously on a stage, so we worry, at least starting off.


Early Trade Ad Sees Great Things for The Milky Way and Lloyd




Harold is pitched as ring challenger to all comers, each a fix by manager Adolphe Menjou, who some said stole Lloyd’s thunder. That isn’t so in hindsight, or maybe it is, and I’m just loyal to Harold despite liking Menjou too. In fact, all the ensemble is fine, and thank goodness HL feels oats by a second act to become his old self again. I read that Lloyd commissioned Leo McCarey to direct, insisted on him to Paramount in fact, but there couldn’t have been much argument, for McCarey had just done Ruggles Of Red Gap for them and triumphed. Four behind that were Belle Of The Nineties, Six Of A Kind, Duck Soup, and The Kid From Spain, three for Paramount, and all outstanding. McCarey was the greatest gift any clown could get in the 30’s, his a crackling pace here. Milky rooms are filled with movement with oft-funnier things on sidelines than what happens center-frame. I’ll bet laughter drowned stuff out that might have gotten bigger laughter, and it isn’t all Lloyd’s bag to carry. As said, Veree Teasdale is quips non-stop, all bulls-eye. When Lloyd gets physical as in yore, it’s reliably a panic. Watch how he and McCarey execute a leap over a hedge, done in seconds, but what a payoff. The ring finish invites comparison with Chaplin, Laurel-Hardy, others, doing the set-piece before, though Lloyd differs for having made himself a publicity showboat and figuring he can lick all comers. This threatens a comeuppance, which I’m glad doesn’t happen. Didn’t Harold take hard enough knocks in the first act? Here it’s victory and he glories in it, the comic in charge and a welcome departure from norm. McCarey ties up with an end title remarkable for suddenness. This picture does not end so much as it stops.




Goldwyn Remakes The Milky Way as The Kid From Brooklyn (1946), with Danny Kaye


Paramount Uses Upbeat Reviews to Boost The Milky Way
Trades reported Lloyd taking the checkered flag out of early screenings. The Milky Way had brought him back! … and yet. What a blow for one whose instincts had been so infallible before. Studio brass used to answer crepe-hangers by saying there was nothing wrong with the industry that good pictures could not fix. That did not always hold true. There were a lot of delightful films that failed for no apparent reason at all. Depression woes might have slowed The Milky Way, what with industry still struggling to its feet from a worst of the Crash. Paramount was yet in receivership, so nothing was sure. Milky’s million in cost was a bit much to pour on comedy, especially with uncertain draw that was by-then Lloyd. I want to think the letdown was anyone’s fault but his. Heavens, but the man had not aged an hour since The Freshman. Glad he had the Shriners, photography, record collecting, myriad hobbies … each pursued like military campaigns … Lloyd must have been a most motivated individual that ever lived. I’ll let go this linger to reiterate: Do not let The Milky Way evade you as it did me (and whose fault was that?). It is great Lloyd, great McCarey, great everybody involved. I hope the UCLA clean-up will surface, if not from Criterion, then maybe on HD at TCM. The Milky Way needs to be seen wide.

23 Comments:

Blogger John McElwee said...

Griff reflects on Harold Lloyd's talking comedies:


Dear John:

I'm a little more favorably disposed toward Lloyd's talkies than many, I suppose. I just like his screen presence, and I even find his voice appealing. [It would have been a lot of work and something of a creative risk, but I always wondered why Lloyd never found a suitable stage comedy later in life -- at least for summer stock -- and capitalize on his long-lingering popularity.] I always liked looking at his sound vehicles, at any rate. THE CAT'S PAW was always worth watching, and MOVIE CRAZY had its moments... only PROFESSOR BEWARE, which started well and then faltered, didn't seem worth re-visiting.

The very poor public domain prints of THE MILKY WAY were sad to watch. Somewhere amid the dupey, contrasty image and sometimes inaudible sound, it was evident that something of a high order was going on here. (Leo McCarey, after all, was the director, and this was his greatest period) I always wondered whether there might be a top-notch screwball comedy underneath all the fuzz and background noise -- if one could only properly see and hear it. This UCLA restoration sounds like the real deal, and may prove a revelation to some. A great post, John, articulate and well researched.

In regard to Goldwyn's sad destruction of the film, it's worth pointing out that when a studio bought remake rights to a movie from another company back in the day, it almost always acquired not only the rights, but the whole picture -- negative and all existing prints. Often these would simply be discarded and destroyed; this was a common occurrence, though it seems insane and heretical now. There's a monograph worth penning about the numerous features which fell victim to this practice (and which either no longer exist, or survive only in tattered dupes, like 1932's THE ANIMAL KINGDOM).

Regards,
Griff

10:59 AM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

Saw this countless years ago. My two memories: 1) Harold sneaking a pony (or was it a goat?) into a cab. 2) Discovering what a funny actor Adolphe Menjou could be.

1:37 PM  
Blogger Marc J. Hampton said...

Great post.

This is why I stop in at GPS religiously...for reminder of all the great titles out there that have slipped off my radar.

There was a laserdisc ages ago....perhaps by Image? That was the last time I even heard about this title. Wonder if quality of that print was superior to the awful prints on You Tube.

Nice shout out to Veree Teasdale. I never hear much about her. She was amusing in "Roman Scandals", holding her own with Eddie Cantor.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Beowulf said...

Two things I never forgot about Harold Lloyd: 1) I know he blew part of one hand off while handling a "prop bomb" and wore a glove to disguise that fact, and 2) I know he had a room where he kept a Christmas tree up year round. Every time I catch the movie WESTWORLD on TV, I remember that they used part of his estate for "Roman World."

5:23 PM  
Blogger DBenson said...

The thing I took away from "The Milky Way" was that Lloyd, had he been so inclined and/or less wealthy, could have carved out a solid second career as a character actor. Playing precision farce he's an expert team player; if he objected to Menjou stealing scenes there's no trace of it in the finished film.

By weird coincidence I watched "The Third Genius" last night; a two-hour 1989 documentary featured on Criterion's "Safety Last". The Lloyd family was involved, so perhaps there was sugar-coating in exchange for then-unavailable clips and photos. But it concedes he had a hot temper and was fiercely competitive in everything, so perhaps he couldn't blend into ensembles long term.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

In my days of delivering and picking up dry cleaning in Beverly Hills, Greenacres was on my route. This was the early 80s, so Lloyd was but a memory and the estate had long since been subdivided, but the house itself was in great shape.

Interestingly to me, there was never any staff visible, so I'd drop off and pick up the goods and poke around the house as much as I dared. The kitchen was very nice (if dated; probably the original fixtures), with big bowls of cashews to swipe. I once dared to find the room I assumed the Christmas tree had been in, but it too was gone with the proverbial wind.

6:51 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

John,

I came to be a fan of Harold Lloyd as a teenager in the 1970s. He had died and rights to his films had been leased to Time-Life. The Free Library of Philadelphia put together a Lloyd program one summer and ran several of his films.

I really enjoyed your write-up on The Milky Way, which I also consider to be his best sound film.

If you get a chance I would love to see a column on Welcome Danger. His prior film (Speedy) was excellent and in my opinion his second best (slightly beat out by Safety Last). I waited years to see his next film, Welcome Danger, which was his highest grossing film and first talkie. When I DVRed it off of TCM, it took me several attempts in small doses to get through it. Horrible and almost unwatchable. The only way I will ever sit through it again is if I get a opportunity to see the silent version.

I don’t know why or what it is but watching Lloyd in his talkies, he appears diminished to me. Perhaps because he was such a great visual comedian and he was not awful at verbal comedy, but there were so many who were better.

Joe from Virginia Beach

Reply From John:

Good point about Lloyd being diminished by sound. He was good with talk, but it would never again be like it once was ...

WELCOME DANGER is a trial for me too, but they sure did gorgeous stills and trade ads for it, plus spectacular theatre fronts. Maybe someday I should do something emphasizing those rather than the movie itself.

7:04 AM  
Blogger Scott MacGillivray said...

I suspect MODERN TIMES was more of an audience grabber than THE MILKY WAY because of pure curiosity: people may have wanted to see if Chaplin would tank with a silent picture in Very Modern 1936, or what kind of experience a silent picture would be in 1936. Chaplin had also been off the screen longer than Lloyd, which may have been a factor.

PROFESSOR BEWARE did tank in many situations. The exhibitor reports were often brutal: "Harold Lloyd is through as far as I am concerned. His comedy used to go at one time but is out now. And I had a lot to tell me so." "This picture was one of the biggest boxoffice flops that I have ever played." "Business only fair. Afraid Harold is about washed up." And worst of all: "Harold, why don't you give up?" The business-savvy Mr. Lloyd may well have seen this feedback.

11:02 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Craig Reardon checks in on Harold Lloyd (Part One):


Hi John,

Wonderful column on "The Milky Way", written in your uniquely engaging style. I'm a very late convert to Harold Lloyd, not because I disliked him when I was a younger movie lover, but rather due to the fact that I never saw any of his movies then at all! It's been a revelation to me to see the gorgeous restorations from UCLA released by Criterion. My last introduction (first viewing) was the still recent "The Kid Brother". I particularly marveled at the 'Supplements' (Criterion's rather starchy term for what other disc companies usually are content to call 'special features'!), with the amazing reconstruction of where the sets for this film were located and associated locations. I've driven past there hundreds of times, and it's 'always' been the same view: basically, a gigantic cemetery! The movie and L.A. historian (if credited, I forget his name) who uses aerial photography (probably taken, no kidding, from a dirigible in those years, not uncommon) to show the landscape as it was contemporaneous with the movie's production also mentions the fact that much of the property was later incorporated into Forest Lawn Cemetery...where in fact I attended a funeral for a beloved and respected makeup artist about an even year ago, Dan Striepeke (who'd worked in his last years exclusively with Tom Hanks, who adored the guy, and spoke at the funeral.) Not to lose the point as I so often do with my automatic digressions, that being that it's hard to imagine that this cemetery which is visible even from the busy 101 freeway which runs past it that it once did not exist and in fact as recently as the 1920s. Incidentally, the immortal battle ax (but also brilliant actress) Bette Davis is interred in this cemetery, I believe next to her mother and possibly also her sister--they were tightly knit. Also, the great Stan Laurel--while his partner Oliver Hardy is interred in a decidedly less high end burial ground in North Hollywood.

12:59 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Part Two from Craig Reardon:


Back to Lloyd, though! I have come to appreciate his comedy, which is energetic and hilarious, but also his unique persona, that of an earnest, disingenuous guy who immediately like and sympathize with, one who as you note has to take a lot of guff in almost all his scenarios before finally getting his own back, but always in a way which wins our applause. No meanness, but always the just deserts of a true and noble soul. I think it's intriguing that the great comedy figures all exploited similar yet different instincts in their audiences. Pathos was always there, but most of the great figures avoided bathos...which degenerates into a kind of cringing, whining defeatism. What one admires in all these figures is their inherent resilience. None more so than Lloyd.

I was fortunate to work on projects (both television) that were made at the Harold Lloyd estate in Beverly Hills. I wasn't able to factor in the effects of age through observing the main house nor outbuildings, nor the grounds, until I got inside (never further than the entryway and living room, I suppose it was), where one could see close up the weathering of some of the incredibly intricate inlay work in the wood work, indicative of the no cost spared approach to the building of this impressive place originally. The fact that it is in such good condition generally is impressive enough. I think Lloyd's grandchild Susan was key in getting the estate turned into a California landmark or historic place, to insure its survival as a single entity (vs the huge property being purchased and subdivided), not to mention the original buildings and layout being preserved. Since my own visits were professional, I had no time nor opportunity, let alone the authority, to wander around the main house nor the property, but I'm not certain one cannot arrange to do this today, if the estate is owned and administrated by the state of California. That's something I could research, but I haven't got the time (nor inclination) to do it right now! However, I can say from what I did see and what I do remember that it is extremely impressive on every level, including the sense it gives as far as what an individual, Harold Lloyd himself, basically achieved on his own, abetted by a public avid for entertainment in the 'new' format of movies, and a time when the most popular filmmakers were richly rewarded, and income tax hadn't even been invented yet. They really did become kings and queens. Lloyd was smart enough to hold on to his fortunes, and the estate is a silent testament to a silent movie bonanza he once reaped.

Craig

12:59 PM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

I bought the Newline Harold Lloyd box set which includes THE MILKY WAY though, truth be told, Harold Lloyd has never caught my attention the way Chaplin, Keaton, Laurel and Hardy (and w. C. Fields in the sound era) do.

Guess it's time to see THE MILKY WAY after reading this piece and these superlative comments.

Thanks to all of you for sparking my curiosity.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Tommie Hicks said...

Lloyd was not a clown but a comic actor, one of the best in silents, but when he started to speak, he becomes annoying to me. His cinematic formula: I have to save someone right this minute but first I have to overcome these myriad of obstacles before I get there, just doesn't cut it in sound. The two Harold Lloyd talkies I like the best, CAT'S PAW and MILKY WAY deviate from the formula and are Lloyd's most entertaining sound era efforts. FEET FIRST, MOVIE CRAZY, and PROFESSOR BEWARE are complete rehashes of Lloyd situations and gags that were less than ten years old. This is what sank talkie Lloyd IMHO. Lloyd, like Semon, thought the old material would always serve them. PROFESSOR BEWARE is just a mere old gag parade with a flimsy, crazy story line attached.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

I have to disagree about the recycling of old gags. The way movies were shown ten years was more than enough time to pass for the old gags to appear new before an entirely new audience. People did not see these films as we do one after another in box sets.

It is easy for me having just watched the frenetic THE MILKY WAY to understand why Chaplin eclipsed the film with MODERN TIMES.

Chaplin's tramp dominates the screen as few creations of the movies can or have.

Told by Mack Sennett at the start of his Keystone contract, "The key to our comedy is that we improvise a series of events which culminate in a chase," Chaplin wrote in MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY, "I knew nothing about film but I understood comedy. The essence of comedy is personality and nothing dissipates personality like a chase."

Lloyd is so frenetic and one note that his personality hardly registered to me.

The screen is so busy with other extremely good actors Lloyd to me seemed lost in the mix as well as often trying too hard.

The film is first rate Leo McCarey though not as first rate as DUCK SOUP and BELLE OF THE NINETIES where McCarey is working with stronger personalities who keep our eyes riveted on them. The same with Laurel and Hardy and Cary Grant.

Lloyd, as you wrote, does look remarkably fit. As the film requires him to be near naked he had to.

I need to see these films with an audience. I have often not liked a particular film watching it by myself but find my reactions with paying audiences to be much more illuminating.

Again, thanks for spurring me to watch this.






10:36 PM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

Paying audiences pay attention.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Dave K said...

Great shout out for THE MILKY WAY, a film to which I have a sentimental attachment.

Have always felt Harold Lloyd faced a few obstacles the other great silent era comics did not encounter when sound arrived. I think Tommie Hicks touches on it... the talkies mitigated one of his greatest qualities, his innate likeability. In his great features of the 1920's, Lloyd's characters are often posers (SAFETY LAST, THE FRESHMEN, THE KID BROTHER, GIRL SHY) or pampered playboys (SAILOR MADE MAN, WHY WORRY, FOR HEAVENS SAKE). In GRANDMA'S BOY he's a coward and in SPEEDY he's a bit of a breezy slacker. But thanks to the stylized reality of silent cinema, we never have to literally HEAR him lie or berate. Instead the aesthetic of silence grants us instant intimacy with this plucky guy and we find ourselves won over by his cleverness and even his insecurity. Right from the start we are on his side, assured of his true noble and heroic character long before the plot provides the opportunity for it to shine. In both DR. JACK and HOT WATER Lloyd does play a straight forward confident hero from title credits to end card and, significantly, without that emotional shift both features feel like lesser works.

Lloyd is pretty much an insufferable jerk in the first talkie WELCOME DANGER. I think the comic was doping out this problem, because he's a little easier to take in each succeeding sound movie. The nifty thing about MILKY WAY is Lloyd's character starts out as completely sympathetic THEN gets full of himself. Ironically, thanks to great screwball comedy mechanics, we still never leave his corner... we're rooting for him even as he's making a bit of an ass of himself!

More than a decade ago at a big-ish family gathering at my house, folks were asking me to put in a DVD of one of my really old, really funny movies but something nobody else was overly familiar with. I had my Harold Lloyd box set in hand, intending to pop in THE KID BROTHER or SPEEDY, when the well known resistance to silent movies raised its ugly head. Swiftly I shifted gears and started THE MILKY WAY. I was honestly surprised when the thing went over like gangbusters. "That was great! I had never heard of it!" Stuff like that.

Two of the most vocal and appreciative audience members were my mother and an older sister, both now departed. So I have a soft spot for this one. Sorry for going on and on!

12:06 PM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

Dave K. You're absolutely right about sound altering our perception of Lloyd. Years ago in the 1970s I bought a 16mm print of HAROLD LLOYD'S WORLD OF COMEDY. When the human fly routine from Lloyd's film FEET FIRST came on the screen I gripped the sides of my chair in absolute terror made all the more ridiculous because I knew Lloyd had not been killed but his squeals and other sounds just heightened the moment. I have never watched anything so tense since. Audiences I ran the film for reacted the same way.

Glad your family loved THE MILKY WAY. Too bad they would not watch the silent films. That Harold Lloyd box set is a gem. For a few dollars we get way more than I got with the cost of H. L's WORLD OF COMEDY. That picture was worth every cent though.

2:28 PM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

Reading all these comments, I have to wonder: Did any silent comedian have such a smooth transition to talkies as Laurel & Hardy?

4:41 PM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

According to what I have read from many sources Buster Keaton's sound features did better business than his silent ones which was part of Keaton's problem with his producers. He could not argue against what was being done to him because his pictures were successful at the box office.

Of course W. C. Fields really flourished in the sound era. His silent features are great but his sound films give us the full Fields.

Chaplin, of course, took his time bringing his voice to the screen. When he did speak he spoke well, wonderfully well. MONSIEUR VERDOUX is a big favourite.

Charley Chase, Harry Langdon and many, many others continued into the sound era.

5:18 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Dan Mercer steps up for Harold Lloyd:


Lloyd movies do come alive with an audience. I remember watching “The Cat’s Paw” for the first time on television. I thought that it was interesting, with an intriguing resemblance to “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town,” as a naïf comes to the big city with its glamor and corruption and bends it to his immutable principles, but more indicative of Lloyd’s decline from the silent films I’d become familiar with than a film worthwhile in itself. A few months later, I saw it again at a Cinecon, this time with a few dozen other people. They got the gags and were charmed by the set pieces, and before very long the progress of the movie could be measured in chuckles and outright laughter. When I’ve seen it since then, it is with eyes—and ears—opened by that afternoon showing. It has become my favorite of his talkers.

12:44 PM  
Blogger Michael Johnson said...

I saw what I remember as being a nice 35mm print at a revival theatre on Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles back in the mid '70's. (The Vagabond?) The theatre was packed and the movie played well. I remember Lionel Stander feeling Lloyd's bicep in the boxing ring and remarking "As soft as a bag of dead mice!"

1:53 PM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

"I remember Lionel Stander feeling Lloyd's bicep in the boxing ring and remarking 'As soft as a bag of dead mice!'"

That's the problem.

It's a terrific Leo McCarey movie but as Lloyd is one among many a poor Harold Lloyd movie.

In his silent films the focus is on Harold.

Mae West understood that. She was more generous to supporting players with her dialogue than she is given credit for but the focus from start to finish is The Star which is Mae West.



4:55 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

I saw what I remember as being a nice 35mm print at a revival theatre on Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles back in the mid '70's. (The Vagabond?) The theatre was packed and the movie played well. I remember Lionel Stander feeling Lloyd's bicep in the boxing ring and remarking "As soft as a bag of dead mice!"

Michael, if it was on Wilshire, it was definitely the Vagabond. I loved that theatre and the Encore, which were both my universities and my cathedrals. I still recall the Potemkin mural on the walls at the former.

8:12 PM  
Blogger Phil Smoot said...

Wow, thanks for The Milky Way blog. I did not know about the film at all.

9:16 PM  

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