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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Freshman [Blu-ray]


(Fred C. Newmeyer, Sam Taylor, 1925)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: The Harold Lloyd Corporation

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #703



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:16:56.445

Disc Size: 48,475,596,929 bytes

Feature Size: 20,864,342,016 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.99 Mbps

Chapters: 11

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 25th, 2014



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps






• Audio commentary featuring director and Harold Lloyd archivist Richard Correll, film historian Richard Bann, and film critic Leonard Maltin

New orchestral score, composed and conducted by Carl Davis, presented in uncompressed stereo on the Blu-ray
On-camera introduction to The Freshman by Lloyd and a clip reel, both from Harold Lloyd’s Funny Side of Life (1966 -
Three newly restored Lloyd shorts: The Marathon (1919 - 13:58), with a new piano score by Gabriel Thibaudeau, and An Eastern Westerner (27:38) and High and Dizzy (27:15) - both 1920, with new orchestral scores by Davis
Harold Lloyd: Big Man on Campus, a new visual essay on the film’s locations by Lloyd author John Bengtson (16:27)
Conversation between Correll and film historian Kevin Brownlow (39:48)
Footage from a 1963 Delta Kappa Alpha tribute to Lloyd, featuring comedian Steve Allen, director Delmer Daves, and actor Jack Lemmon (29:21)
Lloyd’s 1953 appearance on the television show What’s My Line? (6:31)
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Stephen Winer





Description: 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. This crowd-pleaser is a gleeful showcase for Lloyd’s slapstick brilliance and incandescent charm, and it is accompanied here by a new orchestral score by Carl Davis.



The Film:

One of Harold Lloyd's best feature-length comedies, The Freshman, features the bespectacled regular guy as Harold Lamb, a na´ve young man who heads off to college believing campus life will be just as it is in the movies; he even learns a little dance he saw one of his favorite actors do in a film. However, Harold soon discovers that real life isn't all that much like the pictures, and he quickly becomes the laughing stock of the university. Determined to prove himself, Harold tries out for the football team, but he serves as water boy and rides the pine until he finally gets a chance to redeem himself at the big game. Along the way, Harold also tries to woo a lovely co-ed, Peggy (Jobyna Ralston). 22 years later, writer/director Preston Sturges used the climactic football game as the opening for his collaboration with Harold Lloyd, The Sin of Harold Diddlebock.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Harold Lloyd's most famous film (1925) finds him an erstwhile Ivy Leaguer at a southern university, where he struggles to make the football team and keep his pipe lit. Lloyd's films are prose where Keaton's were poems, but gag for gag, Lloyd was the funniest screen comic of his time. Passionately recommended.

Excerpt from Dave Kehr at the Chicago Reader located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Last year (2013) Criterion brought Safety Last to Blu-ray. And now we get The Freshman and it looks equally as excellent on Blu-ray. While Safety Last was transferred in 1080i, The Freshman is rendered in 1080P. Generally, indoor and outdoor scenes are separated by a yellow/golden/sepia tint for the indoor. This is dual-layered with a very high bitrate and looks like a brilliant representation of the film shown in its premiere almost 90-years ago. Contrast is the key here and also Criterion's hallmark. Tight images are produced looking frequently very crisp. Detail are impressive. They are even examples of depth. There are some less-discernable light scratches but overall the video is stupendous. This Blu-ray video is very impressive taking into account the age of the feature.


















Audio :

The audio is transferred via a linear PCM 2.0 channel track at 2304 kbps. We have a new orchestral score, composed and conducted by Carl Davis and it sounds wonderfully clear, crisp with smatterings of depth. There intertitles look original and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.


Extras :

Criterion include the audio commentary, recorded in 2005, featuring director and Harold Lloyd archivist Richard Correll, film historian Richard Bann, and film critic Leonard Maltin originally found on The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection Vols. 1-3 (reviewed HERE). From 1966, we get the on-camera introduction to The Freshman by Lloyd and a clip reel, both from Harold Lloyd’s Funny Side of Life running about 1/2 an hour. Included are three newly restored Lloyd shorts: The Marathon is a 1919 one-reeler (14-minutes) starring Harold Lloyd as one of Bebe Daniel's many suitors, who - after a series of mishaps, end up running in a local marathon. It is presented with a new score composed, and performed by, Gabriel Thibaudeau. An Eastern Westerner is a two-reeler (27:38) from 1920. It is a fast and furious parody of western films in which Harold Lloyd stars as an East Coast boy shipped off to a ranch. Mildred Davis, who would later become Lloyd's wife, costars. It is presented with a new orchestral scores by Davis. High and Dizzy is also a 1920 two-reeler (27:15) and is the second of Harold Lloyd's famous 'thrill pictures'. It stars a tipsy doctor and Mildred Davis as a sleepwalking patient. It also has a new Carl Davis score. Criterion add an interesting 2013 conversation between Richard Correll, a director and long-time Harold Lloyd archivist, and University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts, film historian Kevin Brownlow for almost 40-minutes. They discuss The Freshman, Lloyd's career and their encounters with Lloyd over the years. I was quite keen on the visual essay by John Bengtson, author of Silent Visions: Discovering Early Hollywood and New York Through the Films of Harold Lloyd. In the 16.5-minute essay he looks at the locations used for the college and football scenes in The Freshman and features rare behind-the-scenes stills from Lloyd's archive. Another supplements is 1/2 hour's worth of footage from a 1963 Delta Kappa Alpha tribute to Lloyd, featuring comedian Steve Allen, director Delmer Daves, and actor Jack Lemmon. USC Cinematic Arts program honored Silent films stars Harold Lloyd and Mary Pickford in celebration of its 25th anniversary. In the included clip Lloyd is introduced by actor Gloria Swanson and takes the stage to discuss his career with other comedians. Lastly, we get Lloyd’s April 26th 1953 appearance as a "mystery guest" on the CBS television show What’s My Line? to help publicize a theatrical release of The Freshman. Only his 6.5 minute segment on the show is presented here. As well as 2 DVDs in the dual-format package containing all the feature and extras of the Blu-ray, there is a liner notes booklet featuring an essay by critic Stephen Winer.



The Freshman is quintessential Harold Lloyd. A near perfect Silent comedy - endearing, funny, warm. The Criterion Blu-ray package offers a great a/v presentation with extensive extras. I really enjoyed this and hope they continue to release more of Harold Lloyd's work in 1080P. Strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

March 3rd, 2014


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

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Gary W. Tooze






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