Happy 123rd Birthday, Harold Lloyd!

The great Harold Lloyd was born 123 years ago today in Burchard, Nebraska. Though today he’s less remembered by the general public than Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton are, in his day, he was more popular at the box office than either of them, and his pictures hold up very well today. If you ever have a chance to see one of his films in a theatre with a live audience, don’t pass it up. You’ll have a grand time.

Happy birthday, Mr. Lloyd, wherever you may be!

Harold Lloyd

365 Nights in Hollywood: Lem Bardi, Unlimited

Jimmy Starr began his career in Hollywood in the 1920s, writing the intertitles for silent shorts for producers such as Mack Sennett, the Christie Film Company, and Educational Films Corporation, among others. He also toiled as a gossip and film columnist for the Los Angeles Record in the 1920s and from 1930-1962 for the L.A. Herald-Express.
Starr was also a published author. In the 1940s, he penned a trio of mystery novels, the best known of which, The Corpse Came C.O.D., was made into a movie.
In 1926, Starr authored 365 Nights in Hollywood, a collection of short stories about Hollywood. It was published in a limited edition of 1000, each one signed and numbered by the author, by the David Graham Fischer Corporation, which seems to have been a very small (possibly even a vanity) press.
Here’s “Lem Bardi, Unlimited” from that 1926 collection.


Lem Smith had changed his name!
But it didn’t matter. Hollywood had not formally met the actor yet, anyhow.
Lem had seen Leo Carrillo in Lombardi, Ltd., once, and the title had always stuck with him.
In his own egotistic mind he was the one and only juvenile for the screen. Thus his sudden departure from Texas for Cinemaland.
He had written Harold Lloyd and Tommy Meighan that he was coming. But he supposed they were busy working and couldn’t get away from the studio, as they had not greeted him upon the arrival of the train.
Neither had Sam Goldwyn or Carl Laemmle.
As Lem walked up from the station he passed a sign which read: “Cards Printed. 50c Per Hundred.”
Twenty minutes later Lem was carefully holding a smalls stack of cards bearing the inscription:
“Lem Bardi, Unlimited.”
Lem was a wise guy. He inquired the way to Hollywood. A newsboy directed him west, but Lem was a wise guy to city fellows, so he went east.
He got on the wrong car.
Lem was a wise guy!
Two hours later Lem had his first view of the film village. But there were no celluloid friends in sight. At least none of the stars were out. Lem knew them all.
Lem strolled down the boulevard nonchalantly.
He stopped to gaze into a window.
Jackie Saunders spoke to him. She told him to get off her foot!

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Make a left at 1935…

Most New Yorkers we know get a kick out of seeing motion pictures that were shot in the Big Apple. It’s fun to watch for spots you know, to think, “Hey, I live just a few blocks from that restaurant—I had brunch there once” or “I used to walk by that store every day on my way to work.” And even transplants to the city feel like a true New Yorkers when we can spot continuity errors, when a character steps out the door of his building on the Upper East Side, for example, and rounds the corner, only to be on the Upper West Side in the very next shot.

Even more fun is watching classic movies that were filmed in New York (though most NYC-set pictures in those decades were shot on studio lots in Los Angeles). Harold Lloyd‘s Speedy (1928) is a great example of a movie shot in NYC, and Lloyd’s climactic race at the helm of a horse-drawn trolley that covers the length of Manhattan during the picture’s climax provides some terrific opportunities to see New York as it once was (and to watch for a few landmarks, such as the arch in Washington Square Park, that are still standing).

We’ve never resided in Los Angeles (though we’re not averse to the notion), but having spent a week at a time there on several occasions over the past decade, we find that we’re able to spot a number of familiar locales and locations when we watch movies that are set there. And, of course, site spotting while enjoying old movies that are set in Los Angeles is great fun. One of our favorite examples is the frequent appearances made by downtown L.A.’s Bradbury Building; that classic structure shows up in any number of movies, old and new, including the 1950 thriller D.O.A. (in one scene in that noir classic, Edmund O’Brien takes a head-first spill while running through the building’s lobby; when we paid a visit to the Bradbury some years back, we couldn’t resist taking a fall of our own as a sort of tribute).

All of which is by way of setting up the following video clip, which is stock footage shot in 1935 and meant, we presume, to serve as the background for scenes that were meant to take place in automobiles but were filmed in those studio-bound contraptions that were rigged to resemble a car’s interior.

The car carrying the camera that shot this footage starts near Canon Drive and travels east along Wilshire Boulevard through Beverly Hills. If you grew up near there in the 1930s, you’ve got a real treat awaiting you. If you didn’t, this may be as close as you can hope to get to experiencing what it was like then.

We can’t help it; we’re suckers for quick trips back in time such as this one.

Goodbye, Grandma’s Boy

Here’s a two-part video follow-up to last week’s photograph of that “ghost sign” in Vancouver that, ninety years ago, advertised Harold Lloyd‘s first feature-length film, Grandma’s Boy.

1920’s Harold Lloyd Film Poster found in Vancouver from VanArts.

History of Harold Lloyd & “Grandma’s Boy” from VanArts.

The building on which the sign was painted has since been razed, and we’re not happy about that. We can’t help but hope someone tried to preserve the sign.

Though admittedly, there are not that many spots where such a thing could be displayed, so we’re no doubt kidding ourselves.

image of old sign advertising Harold Lloyd's Grandma's Boy