"If you don't know Norman Lloyd," says veteran actor Karl Malden, "you should know Norman Lloyd. Because he is the history of our industry up to now." After watching Matthew Sussman's affectionate portrait of the actor, producer and director whose credits range from Cinna the poet in Orson Welles' 1937 Mercury Theatre production of Julius Caesar to Dr. Daniel Auschlander in TV's St. Elsewhere it's hard not to agree.
Born in Jersey City in 1914 but raised in Brooklyn, Lloyd began taking acting classes at the Stage Children's Fund as an 8-year-old, around the same time he began playing tennis. More than 80 years later, he's still doing both: In 2005 he starred in Photosynthesis, a surreal short by a first-time filmmaker, and did a vivid supporting turn opposite Cameron Diaz in the big-budget IN HER SHOES (2005). Never a household name, his face is familiar to generations of theater, television and movie viewers. An engaging raconteur with a sly sense of humor, Lloyd played tennis with Charlie Chaplin, began a lifelong friendship with Alfred Hitchcock when John Houseman recommended him for the lead in SABOTEUR (1942), and worked with Bertolt Brecht on the original production of Galileo. Star Charles Laughton's nervous habit of touching his privates during rehearsals occasioned a call from the legendary playwright that began "I wish to speak with you about Charles playing with himself." Lloyd began working behind the camera at the invitation of director Lewis Milestone. He survived being blacklisted and the indignity of having to scrape by on bit parts on live television until Hitchcock stood up to nervous network executives and made him a producer on Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Married for 69 years to Peggy, whom he met as a young actress at New York's politically charged Theater of Action, Lloyd remains enviably vigorous and engaged, always looking for new projects. "We'll make a porno movie," he teases Malden, who confesses feeling like a slug by comparison.
Slickly illustrated with stills and archival footage, the film is marred by an insistent, jazzy score that intrudes on many of the interviews, as though Sussman didn't trust Lloyd and Co. to hold the viewer's attention.
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- Released: 2007
- Rating: NR
- Review: "If you don't know Norman Lloyd," says veteran actor Karl Malden, "you should know Norman Lloyd. Because he is the history of our industry up to now." After watching Matthew Sussman's affectionate portrait of the actor, producer and director whose c… (more)