In my living room is a wooden clock, and dangling from it is a young man decked out in big round glasses and a straw hat.

You've probably seen them. They're not uncommon. It's kitsch, I suppose, but we like it.

Anyway, shortly after we got it, one of my stepdaughters noticed the clock and asked, "Is that Charlie Chaplin?"

The silent-film lecture that followed is unimportant; she was young, we'll forgive her.

But I was nonetheless thunderstruck that she had no clue that it was Harold Lloyd, one of silent comedy's Big Three . . . the others being Chaplin and Buster Keaton.

All three were geniuses, all were adept at knockabout slapstick comedy, and all three dominated movie theaters throughout the 1920s.

For the benefit of others who may also be young:

Chaplin's entire being is iconic; the baggy-pants hobo, with a rumpled suit, a bowler, a cane and a small mustache.

Keaton's iconic look is the sober stone face, showing no emotion, even in the midst of wild acrobatics or some surreal situation flying all around him.

Lloyd, on the other hand, was more down to earth, the everyman, an ordinary guy against whom the gods seemed to conspire. His icon? Big, round glasses.

Although all three performed amazing acrobatic feats, it was Lloyd who became known as a "thrill comic." Often in his films

he was seen performing impossible stunts in implausible situations — whether riding on top of a streetcar as it raced down the boulevard or winning a free-for-all football game or, most famously, dangling from the hands of a clock that was atop a high-rise building above downtown traffic.

And he was hysterically funny.

Chaplin and Keaton were hilarious, too, but where they seemed to routinely mix their comedy with sentiment, Lloyd was only interested in getting laughs, and in a way with which audiences could more readily identify.

Another thing that set Lloyd apart is that he was very smart about his business interests. He kept all the rights to all of his own films. As a result, unlike Chaplin and Keaton's works, Lloyd's never became overexposed on television — in fact, they've hardly been shown on TV at all. And you won't find many of them in the public domain, on a dozen different DVD labels.

In fact, Lloyd's films have been extremely rare on home video.

Until now.

This week, among the plethora of newly released buy-this-for-Christmas DVD box sets, comes "The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection" (New Line, 1920s, not rated, b/w, $89.85, seven discs; all but the bonus disc are also available in three separate double-disc sets for $29.95 each).

This is a carefully crafted set, with 28 features and shorts, a variety of featurettes, documentaries, vintage interviews with Lloyd and others, home movies, a historical overview hosted by Leonard Maltin, photo galleries, Lloyd's Oscar-acceptance speech, a tribute emceed by Jack Lemmon, Steve Allen and director Delmer Daves and much more.

Among the films on display are his most famous — "Safety Last" (1923), with the clock scene; "The Freshman" (1925), which features the football finale; "Speedy" (1928), with a guest appearance by Babe Ruth; "Girl Shy" (1924), "The Kid Brother" (1927) — all among his best features. (And there are lots of great short films, too.)

In fact, there's not really a clunker in the mix; even Lloyd's less-regarded sound films (such as "The Milky Way," "Feet First," etc.) have some very funny moments.

Lloyd was amazing, and amazingly prolific, as this set demonstrates. And the films have all been lovingly restored with remastered prints and new musical scores for the silents.

If you are unfamiliar with Lloyd, dive in. You won't be disappointed. Some of his stunt work is just as hair-raising today as it was 70 or 80 years ago, and even youngsters who turn up their noses at black and white will laugh themselves silly once they get into it.

And for film buffs, many of these pictures haven't been seen in years, and there are plenty of bonus features to keep you busy for hours.


E-mail: hicks@desnews.com