Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Biggest Disappointment of 2005

Last year I got really excited. You see, the great clown, Harold Lloyd, made his first talkie in 1929, Welcome Danger. It was his biggest grosser, no doubt due to the novelty of hearing him speak. Each successive talkie he produced made less money, until he finally quit the movie game.

Anyway, he had actually filmed a full-length silent called Welcome Danger before he realized sound was in. Never one to stint, he scrapped the entire movie, reconceived it, reshot it, and out came the talkie version. While some of Lloyd's talkies aren't half bad, Welcome Danger is considered an oddity of mostly historical interest.

I always wondered if that silent version was available anywhere. In 1929, Lloyd was still at the height of his powers, and even an average silent feature would be a major find. Then, last year, I heard the silent version of Welcome Danger has been found and would be released. I could hardly wait.

A few days ago Turner Classic Movies showed Welcome Danger, the sound version. The host explained when the film was released, many theatres, especially overseas, still only showed silents. So Lloyd took his film, recut it without sound, added titles, and that was shown in many theatres instead of the talkie.

Alas, if TCM is to be believed, this is the "silent" version everyone's been talking about. The original silent version simply doesn't exist any more. Or does it? Lloyd owned his work and took pretty good care of it. Maybe someday it'll be found. (I can dream, can't I?)

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