Today is the 120th anniversary of the birth of the great silent comedian Harold Lloyd, and TCM has devoted a good part of the day to showcasing many of his features…though for a great silent comic they appear to have dug into more of Lloyd’s sound films than the silent classics. I heartily recommend Girl Shy (1924; 7:15am) and For Heaven’s Sake (1926; 8:45am); Shy has one of the very best climactic chases in the history of silent comedy (though Harold’s stuttering character may be a bit off-putting to some) and Heaven’s is in the same ball park, with a wrap-up film historian Leonard Maltin once remarked exceeded that of the famous vehicle pursuit in The French Connection (1971).
Of the sound offerings, Movie Crazy (1932; ) is probably Lloyd’s best talkie…though you might also want to catch The Milky Way (1936; ) as well, a comedy directed by Leo McCarey that stars Harold as a milkman-turned-boxer (it was remade in 1946 with Danny Kaye as The Kid From Brooklyn). But the gem you’re going to want to set your recorders for comes on at ; a rare showing of Harold Lloyd’s Funny Side of Life (1963). Funny Side was a follow-up to a successful compilation of clips from Lloyd’s film career released a year earlier entitled Harold Lloyd’s World of Comedy (1962; it precedes Funny Side at 4:30 pm) but it didn’t do as well at the box office as the first film and was subsequently withdrawn for a good many years, making it most difficult to see.
TCM also has a pair of rarities to showcase after Funny Side: Kelly the Second (1936) was an effort by producer to launch Patsy Kelly into feature films as a fiery fight promoter who attempts to make truck driver Guinn “Big Boy” Williams a champeen fighter. Patsy had much better luck in movies as a supporting player or comic relief, but this breezy little comedy does give her a chance to shine on her own…and includes an appearance by two-reel comedy star Charley Chase, not to mention Pert Kelton (who also appears alongside Kelly in the 1936 two-reeler Pan Handlers), Ed Brophy and ‘Slapsie’ Maxie Rosenbloom. Afterward, one of the best comedies in the history of cinema unspools at 9:15pm: Ruggles of Red Gap (1935), starring the peerless Charles Laughton as a veddy British butler “won” in a poker game by roughneck Charlie Ruggles (yes, I know it’s a bit of a stretch…but Ruggles pulls it off with amazing ease). Charlie is joined by his frequent on-screen partner Mary Boland, along with ZaSu Pitts and Roland Young. Eat, drink and be merry at this wealth of comedy treasures today!