By Phil Dzikiy<br><a href="mailto:email@example.com">E-mail Phil</a>
An often-overlooked silent film star will get the spotlight to himself this weekend at the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda.
The Harold Lloyd Comedy Film Festival kicks off at 8 p.m. Friday and runs through Sunday. The bespectacled Lloyd can be seen in 10 classic films throughout the weekend, appearing on brand new 35mm film.
Riviera artistic director David Bondrow became enamored with Lloyd’s films years ago at Film Forum, a New York City movie theater.
“I was just shocked,” he said. “The audience was filled with a younger generation. When I saw (Lloyd), I instantly became a fan.”
Bondrow immediately became interested in hosting a Lloyd festival at the Riv.
“I always had it in the back of my mind that the Riv would be the perfect place,” he said.
Bondrow got in touch with Suzanne Lloyd, Harold Lloyd’s granddaughter and president of the Harold Lloyd Trust. Suzanne Lloyd hosts her grandfather’s film festivals all over the world.
Other silent film stars such as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton may be more well-known than Harold Lloyd, but that was partly by design, Suzanne Lloyd said.
“(Harold) was always the one who was underexposed,” she said. “Harold retained the rights to his films. He didn’t like his films on TV.”
Recent DVD releases of Lloyd’s films have gone a long way in boosting his popularity, she said.
Some of Lloyd’s best known films will be featured at the festival, including “The Freshman,” “The Kid Brother” and “Safety Last,” which features Lloyd’s most famous scene, when he dangles from the hands of a clock tower.
Though the most recent film on the festival’s schedule was made 79 years ago, Suzanne Lloyd has found that lots of children become taken with Lloyd due to the quick pace of his films and his everyman qualities.
“Children can’t relate to Chaplin or Keaton,” she said. “Harold, he looks like somebody you would know.”
All of the films shown at the festival will feature the live accompaniment of the Wurlitzer organ. The event will kick off with silent film composer Robert Israel playing the organ Friday night.
Though Suzanne Lloyd has put on numerous festivals in her grandfather’s honor and will continue to do so, she never gets tired of introducing Harold Lloyd’s films to a first-time audience.
“When you see people coming out of the theater laughing and happy, it’s a wonderful gift to give to people,” she said. “It’s very heart-felt.”
Contact Phil Dzikiyat 693-1000, ext. 308.
IF YOU GO
• WHAT: The Harold Lloyd Comedy Film Festival
• WHEN: Various times Friday through Sunday
• WHERE: Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St., North Tonawanda
• MORE INFORMATION: Call 692-2413 or visit rivieratheatre.org