Girl Shy

Girl Shy

“[Harold Lloyd] tried at first to offset Chaplin’s influence and establish his own individuality by playing Chaplin’s exact opposite, a character named Lonesomz Luke who wore clothes much too small for him and whose gestures were likewise as unChaplinesque as possible. But he soon realized that an an opposite in itself was a kind of slavishness. He discovered his own comic identity when he saw a movie about a fighting person: a hero who wore glasses. He began to think about those glasses day and night. He decided on horn rims because they were youthful, ultravisible on the screen and on the verge of becoming fashionable (he was to make them so). Around these large lensless horn rims he began to develop a new character, nothing grotesque or eccentric, but a fresh, believable young man who could fit into a wide variety of stories.

Lloyd depended more on story and situation than any of the other major comedians (he kept the best stable of gagmen in Hollywood, at one time hiring six); bun unlike most “story” comedians he was also a very funny man from inside. Het had, as he had written, “an unusually large comic vocabulary.” More particularly he had an expertly expressive body and even more expressive teeth, and out of this thesaurus of smiles he could at a moment’s notice blend prissiness, breeziness and asinity, and still remain tremendously likeable. His movies were more extroverted and closer to ordinary life than any others of the best comedies [...].”

James Agee1


““I was one of the first comics that you could believe in,” Lloyd claimed. Lloyd’s character was the only one the audience felt they knew in real life. Chaplin and Keaton portrayed the underdog, and there were many occasions when the audience could identify with them. Lloyd, however, was closest to the American middle classes. He was the guy across the street, the guy in the next office – a regular fellow.”

Kevin Brownlow2


"I never took credit for direction, although I practically directed all my own pictures. The directors were entirely dependent on me. I had these boys there because I felt they knew comedy, they knew what I wanted, they knew me – and they could handle the details. When you're acting in front of the camera, you can't see yourself, and these boys were able to say, ‘Harold, don't you think it would be funnier if you didn't do so-and-so?’ If anything went wrong and I didn’t like it, I had nobody to blame but myself. I had complete control over all my pictures. [...] Of all the directors, Sam Taylor was the most valuable man I ever had. He was a tremendous help to me. He had a brilliant mind. He parted from me, amicably, because I had stopped producing for a while, and he went off and directed Pickford, Fairbanks, Bea Lillie, John Barrymore. He was an academic type, and was one of the biggest helps I ever had.”

Harold Lloyd3

  • 1James Agee, Agee on Film. Reviews and Comments (Beacon Press: Boston, 1964).
  • 2Kevin Brownlow, The Parade’s Gone By, (Alfred A, Knopf: New York, 1968).
  • 3Harold Lloyd cited in Kevin Brownlow, The Parade’s Gone By, (Alfred A, Knopf: New York, 1968).
UPDATED ON 27.06.2018