He came to America in 1910, as an actor. By the early 1920s he was a leading director. The Eternal Flame was made for Natalie Talmadge’s own company with Talmadge as Balzac’s Duchesse de Langeais; while Oliver Twist, made for Jackie Coogan Productions, paired Lon Chaneys Fagin with Coogan’s urchin. He set up his own production company for a version of Sabatinis The Sea Hawk and for Her Husband's Secret. For the next few years his films were made for First National, notably Divine Lady with Corinne Griffith as Nelson’s Emma. But from 1931, he worked for Fox: East Lynne, with Clive Brook, who also appeared in the adaptation of Noel Coward’s Cavalcade. In 1935, he was loaned to MGM for Mutiny, a slow, stagy film in which Laughton and Gable both seem cramped. It is intrinsically dull, carried by its own publicity, the idea of history, and some second-unit exotica, but it won best picture and another director nomination for Lloyd. After Under Two Flags, Lloyd went over to Paramount and was given a string of swashbucklers.
Geraldine Farrar referred cryptically to his having had “better luck with ships than with people," as though studio spectacle was his only forte. But, in truth, his work is short of character and excitement, as flatulent as this definition of the role of a director from Lloyd quoted in The Parade's Gone By: “The director is essentially an interpreter. To him is given the task of making logical and understandable, pictorially, what the author and the continuity writer have set down."
“Normally an effective director of commercial films,” was Josef von Sternberg’s deadpan verdict on Frank Lloyd when B. P. Schulberg asked him to “salvage" Children of Divorce, a “sad affair," starring Gary Cooper and Clara Bow, that Lloyd had just completed. And yet, two years later, Lloyd won the best director Oscar for The Divine Lady, while in 1933 he received the direction Oscar for the prestigious Cavalcade (it got best picture, too). It is an odd contrast, as inexplicable as the way Lloyd declined in the 1940s, went into an early retirement, and made two last pictures at Republic.