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  • Saving The Harold Lloyd Film Archives:Interview With Suzanne Lloyd and Richard Simonton
  • Steven G. Farrell, Suzanne Lloyd, and Richard Simonton

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Harold Lloyd's iconic hanging from a skyscraper's clock shot from Safety Last, 1923 (permission to use the photograph granted by Harold Lloyd Entertainment).

Suzanne Lloyd has dedicated her energies to preserving the films of her grandfather. In this brief interview, she and co-archivist Richard Simonton respond to questions about the Harold Lloyd film collection.

1) (SGF) How were Harold Lloyd's films stored over the years? Where are they housed now?

Harold's nitrate negatives and prints were stored in this vault on his estate, then later deposited with the UCLA Film and Television Archives in Santa Clarita, California. Films on safety stock were housed in a vault adjoining the garage building, where his 1924 and 1925 Rolls Royce automobiles were kept.

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Harold Lloyd's private film vault.

2) (SGF): How were the films labeled?

There was no definitive labeling scheme until the films went to UCLA, where labels now match the master inventory.

3)(SGF): Were they put in order by date of production or by title?

They are in alphabetical order by title within the Harold Lloyd collection in the UCLA Archives database.

4) (SGF): How many films were in the collection? How many two-reel films versus feature-length films?

Harold's collection of original master elements and projection prints included about 70 of the "Glass Character" one-reelers, 9 two-reelers, 4 three-reelers, 1 four-reeler, and 10 silent features of five reels in length or more. Also 7 sound feature films, 4 compilation films, and 50+ reels of home movies. Of course, a film such as a typical two-reeler, might exist as a domestic original negative, a foreign original negative, and an original print, as well as recent preservation [End Page 57] elements made from them, like master positives, dupe negatives, and safety prints.

5 (SGF): What were the condition of the films?

Some of the silent films were still in perfect condition and could be preserved from the original camera negatives. Others were beyond saving (early one-reelers). Many were in-between and had to be restored as a composite of several negatives and prints.

6) (SGF): I have read that Rich Correll, who assisted you with the project, wasn't happy with the restoration done on the films. What was his issue? Did you share his opinion?

Rich Correll and I were unhappy with some of the preservation efforts done during Harold's lifetime and threw away those that had no value. The new master positives I made during the 1970s are being used now for Blu-ray and DVD production. The Kid Brother was recently scanned at 4K from the master positive I had made from the original negative in 1974. The Criterion Blu-ray discs of Speedy and The Freshman were scanned from elements I made at that time and look beautiful after receiving full digital restorations. The original nitrate print of Safety Last was scanned at 2K for Blu-ray release. I hope you will view those films from the Criterion discs, preferably on a big screen to get the full impact.

7) (SGF): Did you uncover any gems that you weren't aware of?

Many of the "Glass Character" one-reelers (1917 through 1919) turned out to be delights; others not so much. That was a time when Harold was developing what has been referred to as an everyman type of character. In other words, a normal human being in extraordinary circumstances, responding as we might, rather than an eccentric clown doing unusual things. This is what distinguished Harold Lloyd from Keaton and Chaplin. Harold's pre-Glass Character one-reelers (1915-17) employed a character called Lonesome Luke, which he modeled on Chaplin and other silent clowns of the period. But the later Harold Lloyd was a comic actor of great subtlety and skill, presenting situations with which anyone in the audience might identify and sympathize.

8) (SGF): Harold Lloyd archives have appeared all over the world! Which...


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