Silent Visions: Discovering Early Hollywood and New York Through the Films of Harold Lloyd is a stellar piece of cineastic detective work – 300-plus pages in which film historian John Bengtson explores the West Coast and East Coast locales of some of the Golden Age comedy icon's most inspired romps.
Matching frame stills, publicity shots and archival photos with old maps and new pictures of the same locations, Bengtson takes the reader on an archaeological dig of sorts – showing how the physical landscapes and architecture have changed, and haven't, over the many decades since Lloyd starred in such brilliantl, breakneck farces as Girl Shy, Safety Last! and Speedy. (For East Coasters, 1927's Speedy is of particular note: Lloyd (whose real-life nickname was Speedy) goes on an epic and anarchic trip around New York, to Coney Island, Yankee Stadium (driving a cab with the real Babe Ruth), the grand old Pennsylvania Station and scores of other stops through Brooklyn, the Bronx and upper and lower Manhattan.)
For Lloyd fans, Bengtson's book, published by Santa Monica Press, is a must. And for historic architecture and urban design buffs, the book is likewise indispensible. An unusual and commendably obsessive undertaking!