Did Harold Lloyd use test screenings?

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Daniel Eagan
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Did Harold Lloyd use test screenings?

Unread post by Daniel Eagan » Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:28 am

I should know but can't confirm. I know Keaton did but my editor wants someone else.

Thanks.

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Mike Gebert
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Re: Did Harold Lloyd use test screenings?

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:29 am

As I recall there's an image in Adam Reilly's book of the chart-- like a Richter scale-- measuring how loud the audience response got to the gags throughout one of his films. Any dead spots would get new gags.

So that's a yes.
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Re: Did Harold Lloyd use test screenings?

Unread post by Daniel Eagan » Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:32 am

Wow, that was fast. Thanks again.

Believe it or not, this is for a piece on Peter Segal, who directed Grudge Match.

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silentfilm
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Re: Did Harold Lloyd use test screenings?

Unread post by silentfilm » Thu Dec 12, 2013 12:06 pm

And I'm pretty sure that one of Annette Lloyd's books on Harold also describes some changes to films that were made after test screenings.

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Re: Did Harold Lloyd use test screenings?

Unread post by Brooksie » Thu Dec 12, 2013 12:23 pm

If you need a specific reference, there's one in 'Silent Film Comedy and American Culture' by Alan Bilton (p165):

"Lloyd vociferously supported the use of test screenings, editing his work and cutting or adding gags in accordance with the metronome of test audience's vocal responses; indeed, he even went so far as to use a mechanical device for measuring heart rate, the Laughograph, in order to maximise the number of thrills and gags.'

I've even heard it said that Lloyd invented the concept of test screenings. I'm not sure about that, but I've always had the impression that he relied on them very heavily. Watching them with a live audience, you can almost sense the places where he left spaces for laughter.

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Jack Theakston
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Re: Did Harold Lloyd use test screenings?

Unread post by Jack Theakston » Thu Dec 12, 2013 12:24 pm

Harold Lloyd in a 1969 interview for Film Comment: "Even back in the one-reel days, I would take a picture out to a theater when I knew the picture wasn't right. And the manager used to always have to come out and explain what was going on. When were doing two-reelers, he came out in a white tie and tails to do it, and it was quite an event for him and the audience would listen attentively."
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Smari1989
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Re: Did Harold Lloyd use test screenings?

Unread post by Smari1989 » Thu Dec 12, 2013 12:33 pm

silentfilm wrote:And I'm pretty sure that one of Annette Lloyd's books on Harold also describes some changes to films that were made after test screenings.
Yes, I mean to recall that the first test-screening of GRANDMA'S BOY (-22) didn't go so well; Lloyd and his crew discovered that while they had a story, the film lacked gags, so they went back and "gagged it up." (Correct me if I'm mistaken, anyone.)
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Re: Did Harold Lloyd use test screenings?

Unread post by silentfilm » Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:28 pm

Annette Lloyd's The Harold Lloyd Encyclopedia has a half-page article on Lloyd's use of previews on page 285.

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Jim Roots
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Re: Did Harold Lloyd use test screenings?

Unread post by Jim Roots » Fri Dec 13, 2013 7:03 am

Lloyd also used test screenings for his first sound film. He invited a deaf audience because he wanted to be sure the comedy remained universal (accessible to all, regardless of language) despite the addition of English speech.

I think this anecdote is in Adam Reilly's book. If not, then in Tom Dardis' book.

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Re: Did Harold Lloyd use test screenings?

Unread post by SilentEchoes57 » Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:11 pm

The March 18, 1925 story in the Los Angeles Times

How Pictures Are Tried Out: Suburban Theater Audiences Unknowingly ...
Wooldridge, A L
Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Mar 18, 1925;
ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Los Angeles Times (1881-1989)

describes how movies are pre-viewed, especially by Lloyd.

Don't know if I can post a direct link, but you can find it on ProQuest.

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Re: Did Harold Lloyd use test screenings?

Unread post by FrankFay » Sat Dec 14, 2013 7:06 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:As I recall there's an image in Adam Reilly's book of the chart-- like a Richter scale-- measuring how loud the audience response got to the gags throughout one of his films. Any dead spots would get new gags.

So that's a yes.

That was for the film SPEEDY- all of the gags have vertical spikes according to the laughs - it indicates the biggest laugh in the film is the Chinese laundryman "Ironing" the crook's pants.
Eric Stott

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