Harold Lloyd – silent film comedian and cheesecake photographer

While shopping at BMV, Toronto’s three-floor used book emporium, my eyes were captured by the garishly coloured cover to Harold Lloyd’s Hollywood Nudes in 3D! While there are a number of great cheesecake collections out there, this one is unique and definitely deserves a recommendation.

  • First, all of the photos are taken by silent comedy film star Harold Lloyd, who starred in such classics as Safety Last!. I understand that Lloyd pursued photography when he had mostly retired from acting.
  • Second, Lloyd was a nut for 3d cameras (as was the late Lux Interior of the Cramps) and a number of the pictures are in 3d. Even better, the book comes with a pair of 3d glasses shaped like Lloyd’s trademark specs.
  • Third, Lloyd had a great eye for talent. He worked with a lot of now famous names, including Marilyn Monroe, Bettie Page, and Tura Santana.
  • Fourth, Lloyd liked to travel. A lot of his cheesecake photos feature stunningly beautiful landscapes.
  • Fifth, Lloyd was a gentleman. He would pick up the models at the agency, take them out for a nice meal at one of his favorite restaurants and then shoot for a half-day before the models got tired. He loved meeting new talent and helped a lot of them get roles and meet people. He didn’t use his photography / fame to exploit others.
  • Sixth, the pictures are great. He had a real eye for shooting and the colours have that stellar, saturated technicolor feel that made the 1950s such a amazing era.

Worth checking out if you can find it. For more information on Lloyd, check out this site.

You can find a gallery of Lloyd’s photos here.

Here are some samples:


The Bride Wore Black

Saw the Bride Wore Black this weekend and was very impressed. Darkly humourous, unsentimental, and visually powerful, it is one of Francois Truffaut’s best. Bernard Herrmann delivers a great score that recalls his best work with Hitchcock. Jeanne Moreau gives a stunning performance as a woman dedicated single-mindedly to exacting revenge on the five men responsible for her husband’s murder. Supposedly Truffaut liked it least among his films, but even directors can be wrong.  Says Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir in “The Bride Wore Black: Truffaut’s delicious homage to Hitchcock“:

With its summery, Mediterranean surface, Jeanne Moreau as the ultimate femme fatale heroine and a knife-twisting tale of murderous revenge and unexpected romance, “The Bride Wore Black” is well worth rediscovering.

El Mo

I don’t get out to shows as much as I used to, but I was very happy to learn that the El Mocambo has been bought by Marco Petrucci and Sam Grosso, Grosso of Cadillac Lounge fame. Numerous bands have played this Chinatown venue, including famously the Rolling Stones and Elvis Costello. Its last owner  Abbas Jahangiri (who purchased the bar back in 2001)  never seemed to really “get” the bar’s history or the importance of its iconic street-side palm tree sign, as proven by his plans to turn the place into a jazz/hip hop dance studio. Anyway, Petrucci and Grosso definitely do “get” El Mo’s landmark status and have plans to restore it to its former glory. They are certainly the right people to be handling this project (as anyone who has been to Cadillac Louge will attest).

Shadowy Men From Toronto

Among post-1980 instrumental groups, there are few that can best the Canadian Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet and for too long their albums have been out of print. This tragedy is being remedied by Mammoth Cave Recording Co. which is planning on re-releasing the trio’s three albums: Saavy Show Stoppers; Dim the Lights, Chill the Ham; and Sport Fishin’: The Lure of the Bait, the Luck of the Hook. The label is currently taking pre-orders for Saavy Show Stoppers, with plans to release the other two albums later.

In related news, drummer Don Pyle has also recently authored a book featuring his concert photography during Toronto’s punk heyday: Trouble in the Camera Club: A Photographic Narrative of Toronto’s Punk History 1976-1980. Here are two excellent examples of his work. For those of us in Toronto, Pyle’s photos are also on display on the walls of Thirsty and Miserable, Kensington Market’s best bar.

It would seem appropriate to end this post with Shadowy Men’s classic theme to that timeless Can-Con fave Kids in the Hall.

The End of an Era

Two interesting articles from Toronto’s The Grid this week, one focusing on the demise of Captain John’s and the other paying witness to the death of “cheesy” Toronto.

It is hard to forget the iconic sight of Captain John’s large ship / restaurant for anyone who has wandered around Toronto’s downtown harbour-front. A floating restaurant staffed by waiters in nautical uniforms, it recalls a very different era of dining. However, owing hundreds of thousands in property taxes and unpaid rent, Captain John’s is being shut down at the end of this month by order of the City.

Liu, Karen. “The Ballad of Captain John.” The Grid. 25 Jul 2012:

Letnik’s quest to become a restaurateur is the quintessential immigrant success story. In 1957, then 17 years old, he left his family behind in the former Yugoslavia for a better life in Toronto. He worked as a dishwasher at an Etobicoke golf club (and lived there, too), and was eventually promoted to sous chef. After saving enough money, he brought his girlfriend over; they married in 1959 (and later divorced). Two years later, Letnik opened his first eatery: Pop-In Restaurant at Dundas West and McCaul, where he charged 45 cents for pork chops and fried potatoes.

Letnik hatched the idea for a local floating restaurant in 1966, while eating on a ship bound for France. Thinking that it would be a novel concept for Toronto, he sold Pop-In and bought the MS Normac for $30,000 in 1969. The 120-foot, 405-ton boat originally came from Detroit, and had seen better days. But Letnik soon transformed it into a five-star restaurant, giving people a reason to venture down to the bottom of Yonge.

In Edward Keenan’s “The slow disappearance of Cheeseball Toronto,” (25 Jul 2012) The Grid rightly puts the end of Captain John’s in the context of a larger shift away from Toronto’s cheesy past, noting the death of a number of Toronto’s more brash landmarks (World’s Biggest Bookstore, Sam the Record Man):

The Toronto of my youth was a land cascading with blinking light bulbs and gimmicky gimcrackery. And it was awesome. In the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, famously uptight Toronto underwent a garish revolution: The restaurants at the top of the CN Tower and the Westin Harbour Castle actually revolved, as did the sunken stage at the Ontario Place Forum, which was situated right next to the modernist orb of the world’s first IMAX screen at the Cinesphere. Oh, the superlatives. Everything was the world’s tallest, or biggest, or first: not just the freestanding structure and the bookstore and the cinema, but the World’s Biggest Jean Storeand the world’s first retractable roof multi-purpose sports and entertainment facility (built just as the world decided to start constructing single-purpose, open-air baseball shrines instead). And, of course, predating all of this was the world’s biggest, most brazen bargain-house, Honest Ed’s.

Both are good articles and worth reading. You may also want to check out an earlier piece by Karen Liu: “I spent New Year’s Eve alone at Captain John’s.” The Grid. 3 Jan 2012. It has some great photos.