Criterion Collection: The Freshman [Blu-ray]
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Harold Lloyd’s biggest box-office hit was this silent comedy gem, featuring the befuddled everyman at his eager best as a new college student. Though he dreams of being a big man on campus, the freshman’s careful plans inevitably go hilariously awry, be it on the football field or at the Fall Frolic. But he gets a climactic chance to prove his mettle—and impress the sweet girl he loves—in one of the most famous sports sequences ever filmed.
New 4K digital transfer from a restoration by the UCLA Film and Television Archive New orchestral score, composed and conducted by Carl Davis, presented in uncompressed stereo on the Blu-ray Audio commentary featuring director and Harold Lloyd archivist Richard Correll, film historian Richard Bann, and film critic and historian Leonard Maltin Lloyd’s prologue to the 1966 rerelease of the film Three newly restored Lloyd shorts: The Marathon (1919), with a new score by Gabriel Thibaudeau, and An Eastern Westerner and High and Dizzy (both 1920), with new scores composed and conducted by Davis Big Man on Campus, a new visual essay on the film’s locations by silent-film historian John Bengtson Conversation between Correll and film historian Kevin Brownlow Footage from a 1963 Delta Kappa Alpha tribute to Lloyd, featuring comedian Steve Allen, director Delmer Daves, and actor Jack Lemmon Lloyd’s 1953 appearance on the television show What’s My Line? PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Stephen Winer
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Top Customer Reviews
This is a beautifully restored version with great bonus features.
bob, why are you even browsing amazon if you're too cheap to spend money on a quality movie. Why don't you stick to cat videos on youtube?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Unlike others , I enjoy the BR / DVD sets.... I have a DVD player in my computer and in my office so the ability to watch the recent Criterion releases in both Standard and hi definition with a single purchase I find helpful ...and a space saver for my collection, but I digress.
Normally I cringe when I hear Harold Lloyd described as "the third genius" with Chaplin and Keaton. In my humble opinion at his very best he approaches what the other two did as a matter of routine and I even wondered if I should buy this. I think what put me over the top was that I rate "The Freshman" as one of his best and I know his films are in good state so it should look much more like a vintage Chaplin and much better than (sadly) most of the Keaton classic films of the 20's and the print does not disappoint.
I do believe that this was Lloyd's most popular film and while not of the "thrill" variety that he popularized shows his character at his most earnest and likeable. This also predates Buster Keaton's "College" by a couple of years.
But this is very expensive for a film of just over an hour in length (76 minutes) so how can I rate it that high? As I said, it is a good film , one of his best and a classic of the silent era. The bonus features are another thing all together and why I rate this a 5 star value. The first one I checked out was a delicious 7 minutes from Mr Lloyd's appearance on "What's My Line?" where he displays such charm and humor. The nearly 40 minute interview with archivists and friends of Mr Lloyd , Kevin Brownlow and Richard Correll had me thoroughly entertained as well. Author John Bengston , as he has done for others like Keaton, presents a visual essay on the various locations used for filming. I should add that as a lifelong resident in Southern California that feature may appeal to me more than those in other parts of the world. There is a half hour segment from the film "Harold Lloyd's Funny Side of Life" which contains an introduction from Mr Lloyd to The Freshman and a chunk of that feature film featuring many greatest hits clips from his career! The bonus features continue with 3 very classic Lloyd short films "The Marathon" from 1919 , "High and Dizzy" and " An Eastern Westerner" both from 1920 with newly created scores. There is a great audio commentary for the main feature with the previously noted Correll, Leonard Maltin and Richard Bann. I almost forgot another half hour of film where Mr Lloyd was being honored by USC fraternity in 1963 ...featuring Steve Allen and Jack Lemmon paying tribute to him and his own appearance.
So... what we have is a legitimate silent classic, lovingly presented and surrounded with a plethora of bonus features that enhance the experience for me to a great extent and I can say have made this a very treasured part of my film collection. Highly Recommended!
[hint: for ease of navigation, read the review though to the end, then come back and click on the links.]
The best available prints.
Whenever there was overlap, I chose the best-looking transfer.
There are three primary sources:
-- CRITERION (Blu-Ray & DVD):
THE FRESHMAN - Reviewed on this page.
SAFETY LAST: ( Safety Last! (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]) - or - Safety Last! (Criterion Collection) (DVD)
SPEEDY: Speedy (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] - or - Speedy (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
-- NEW LINE: New Line Home Entertainment: The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection Vols. 1-3
Authorized by the Harold Lloyd estate, Transfered from the original negatives, Published 2005.
The Harold Lloyd Collection, Vol. 1 (Slapstick Symposium) -- includes 2 early shorts unavailable elsewhere
The Harold Lloyd Collection, Vol. 2 (Slapstick Symposium) -- includes 5 early shorts unavailable elsewhere
Public domain prints, Published 2004.
SILENT FILM SHORTS:
1918: Are Crooks Dishonest? * ---- KINO vol. 1
1918: The City Slicker * -------------- KINO vol. 2
1918: The Non-Stop Kid * ----------- KINO vol. 2
1918: Take a Chance * -------------- CRITERION: SAFETY LAST
1918: Two Gun Gussie * ------------- KINO vol. 2
1919: Ask Father * --------------------- NEW LINE vol. 1
1919: Billy Blazes, Esq.* ------------ NEW LINE vol. 2
1919: Bumping Into Broadway * --- CRITERION: SPEEDY
1919: Captain Kidd's Kids * --------- KINO vol. 2
1919: Just Neighbors * --------------- KINO vol. 1
1919: The Marathon * ---------------- CRITERION: FRESHMAN
1919: Ring Up the Curtain * -------- KINO vol. 2
1919: Young Mr. Jazz * ------------- CRITERION: SAFETY LAST
1919: From Hand to Mouth ** ----- NEW LINE vol. 1
1920: An Eastern Westerner ** --- CRITERION: FRESHMAN
1920: Get Out and Get Under ** -- NEW LINE vol. 3
1920: Haunted Spooks ** ----------- NEW LINE vol. 3 -- with commentary
1920: High and Dizzy ** ------------- CRITERION: FRESHMAN
1920: His Royal Slyness ** --------- CRITERION: SAFETY LAST
1920: Number Please? ** ----------- NEW LINE vol. 3
1921: Among Those Present ** --- NEW LINE vol. 3
1921: I Do ** ---------------------------- NEW LINE vol. 3
1921: Never Weaken ** ------------- NEW LINE vol. 3
1921: Now or Never ** -------------- NEW LINE vol. 2
SILENT FEATURE FILMS:
1921: A Sailor-Made Man ** ---- NEW LINE vol. 3
1922: Grandma's Boy ** --------- NEW LINE vol. 2
1922: Dr. Jack ** ------------------ NEW LINE vol. 2
1923: Safety Last! ** ------------- CRITERION -- with commentary
1923: Why Worry? *** ------------ NEW LINE vol. 1
1924: Hot Water *** --------------- NEW LINE vol. 3
1924: Girl Shy *** ----------------- NEW LINE vol. 1
1925: The Freshman *** -------- CRITERION -- with commentary
1926: For Heaven's Sake *** --- NEW LINE vol. 3
1927: The Kid Brother *** ------- NEW LINE vol. 2 -- with commentary
1928: Speedy ---------------------- CRITERION -- with commentary
* costarring Bebe Daniels (spunky)
** costarring Mildred Davis (adorable)
*** costarring Jobyna Ralston (adorable yet spunky)
SOUND FEATURE FILMS:
1930: Feet First ---------- NEW LINE vol. 2
1932: Movie Crazy ------ NEW LINE vol. 3
1934: The Cat's Paw --- NEW LINE vol. 1
1936: The Milky Way -- NEW LINE vol. 1
Note: Three sound features: WELCOME DANGER (1929), PROFESSOR BEWARE (1938) and THE SIN OF HAROLD DIDDLEBOCK (1947) are awaiting satisfactory DVD release.
-- THE SIN OF HAROLD DIDDLEBOCK is in the public domain, with mediocre prints on several budget labels.
I recommend The Sin of Harold Diddlebock / Heartbeat , which makes up in quantity what it lacks in quality.
--WELCOME DANGER was broadcast on Turner Classic Movies in June, 2014.
Additions / Corrections to this list are welcome.
The Criterion Blu-Rays of THE FRESHMAN, SAFETY LAST and SPEEDY are based on the same prints that New Line used
I have no complaint, especially as the New Line DVDs are now out-of-print and starting to get pricey.
They were produced by the Harold Lloyd estate from the original negatives.
Unlike a lot of silent films that are in terrible shape, the Harold Lloyd negatives were stored in a vault on the actor's estate.
Criterion has added additional bonus material, including four shorts that were not on New Line,
plus Kevin Brownlow's 1989 PBS documentary "Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius" (with SAFETY LAST) - watch this first if you are new to Harold Lloyd.
I hope Criterion will reissue the remaining New Line titles along with additional shorts.
THE KID BROTHER (1927) already has a Carl Davis score and would be a likely candidate for the Criterion treatment,
but I have no inside information.
To match the images, the musical accompaniments are fantastic! One film has only a piano, the others have full orchestra. They are ALL full of whimsy, imagination, and highlight the visual activities without fear of being castigated for momentary “Mickey Mousing” (matching the action exactly with the music). AND all the soundtracks are recorded ABSOLUTELY perfectly IN SYNCHRONIZATION WITH THE MOVIE! FOR A CHANGE!
Finally, someone did it right!
I have Kino’s THE HAROLD LLOYD COLLECTION and I was unimpressed with the short movie “An Eastern Westerner”. But the same movie in THIS collection was riveting! When you have a truly first-rate, gorgeous print like this, it makes it MUCH easier to watch! AND, Carl Davis is at his finest as a composer for comedies. In the past, his music did not always work, like his soundtrack for Buster Keaton’s “The General”, which is WAY WAY WAY too valiant and noble and regal with soaring rich horns and full orchestra… blah blah blah. No whimsy at all. None. But HERE, for this movie, Davis composed the perfect soundtrack. I’ll watch the movie again soon just because the music is so great.
(ASIDE: Incidentally, why are so many people offended by sound effects? In this compilation is a selection from Harold Lloyd’s Funny Side of Life (1966). Lloyd used orchestral music (his preference over a piano or even an organ), AND he put in sound effects FOR EVERYTHING! Often the sound effects actually cover over the music for long periods of time. Well, if sound effects were good enough for Harold, they’re good enough for me! They really bring the film to life and make the movie seem less “antique” (less ‘silent’). Fortunately, Carl Davis actually does add some sound effects in some of his scores. The more better, I say!)
((ASIDE TO THE ASIDE: By the way, I do not mean “funny” sound effects. All the sound effects that Harold liked were realistic and made the movie seem more natural, heightening the dramatic effects (of falling through a glass windshield, a car hit by a train, doors shutting, etc.). Carl Davis mostly follows this principle and his modest sound effects are always appropriate.))
Now about THE FRESHMAN itself: “The Freshman” is not at all my favorite Lloyd picture and not a movie I can watch more than once a decade (except for the brilliant tuxedo routine); nor is this my favorite Carl Davis score (I wish Davis were less repetitious, more witty, and used some imagination to highlight the action in the football game! [Robert Israel's score is MUCH better.]). However, Harold would probably have strongly approved the full orchestral treatment (and added complete sound effects to cover up the music’s deficiencies).
And really, considering the incredible restoration of the image, the marvelous sound of a full orchestra accompaniment, and the film as an excellent example of superb character-development script-writing… …well, these are all such grand accomplishments that any criticism is petty. I swear that the picture looks like it was shot yesterday. On Blu-ray the details are startling. When the actors smile, even in many of the extreme far shots you can see the lines of cheek bones and you can see the characters’ teeth; you can see the irises of their eyeballs.
(ASIDE: 35mm film was quite an invention, and captured an astonishing amount of detail even in the earliest Méliès movies. How I wish THEY were available in true high-definition!).
So… David Shepard, Flicker Alley, Serge Bromberg and Lobster Films, Kino Lorber—all you guys, pay attention!!! Criterion does it right! You could, too; but your Chaplin Mutual series, much of Kino’s Keaton and Langdon anthologies, some of Lobster’s/Flicker Alley’s Méliès films, and even many early SOUND movies (Kino’s “Lost Keaton”) have sound that is all out of sync to the picture.
How in the world do you spend so much of your time and energy and money restoring a film, and hiring the best composers in business to sensitively match sound-to-image, and then RUIN
your whole product by being so sloppy with the final editing that the sound is not even in sync with the picture?
And it happens ALL THE TIME! Why? How can this be??? How can you DO that to your product??? After all that work??? I would be a screaming maniac if that happened to a movie of mine! Follow Criterion’s example—or whoever did this work! Holy crap, even cheap-o GRAPEVINE VIDEO has soundtracks in sync with the picture (example: their Larry Semon movies)!
My only complaint about this release is that I do NOT need 2 DVDs AND a Blu-Ray. THREE DISCS! What can I do with all these disc? I guess I’ll give away the DVDs…