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Still, Agee admits that Lloyd’s films pass beyond laughter in one respect. What his audiences called “thrill comedy” remains chilling today.His antics on skyscraper ledges and girders still induce vertigo, and his car chases risk catastrophe on a scale that would worry Jackie Chan.Kept in vaults in his rococo estate Greenacres, they would not reemerge until the 1960s, in cut TV versions distributed by Time-Life.Until fairly recently, most critics relied on memory of the films and the received image of the Boy dangling helplessly from the clock face.Lloyd’s films were more lucrative in aggregate than those of any other silent comedian, and he became one of the central figures in Hollywood. Kevin Brownlow had to remind people with his Lloyd documentary, episode on the Criterion Channel, coming up this Friday.When our comrades at Criterion announced their plan for a centenary Lloyd celebration this month on Film Struck, I suggested we devote an installment of our series to one of the films. Man into Boy For decades after sound came in, American silent comedies dropped mostly out of sight.Here as elsewhere, the coddled Boy learns to help his social inferiors.If you’re after class-based critique, Lloyd films come out pretty well.
Those films often feature students wearing the Boy’s glasses (below, , named after Lloyd.
Some 16mm copies were available in cut-down rental versions, and a few were circulated by the Museum of Modern Art Film Library. In the 1970s, thanks largely to piracy, the films of Keaton were added, and still later we came to recognize Charley Chase, Max Davidson, and other talents.
Throughout these years Lloyd’s films were almost invisible because he controlled the rights to them and limited their circulation.
(Below, a photo from a student ski trip in the 1930s.) More edgily, Lloyd also played foppish idlers, louche one-percenters who glide obliviously through the lower orders and need to learn humility.
The original title of , a phrase retained in an intertitle.