SAFETY LAST! (NR, 73 min., B&W, Silent, Hal Roach Studios Released April 1, 1923 Pathe Exchange)
He’s been called the third genius of the silent era comedians (behind Chaplin and Keaton). Orson Welles said, “Harold Lloyd – he’s surely the most underrated [comedian] of them all. The intellectuals don’t like the Harold Lloyd character – that middle-class, middle-American, all-American college boy. There’s no obvious poetry to it.” When commenting specifically on Safety Last! Welles said: “As a piece of comic architecture, it’s impeccable.”
The iconic shot of Lloyd hanging from a clock high above a busy city street is part of our shared film vocabulary – even if most people can’t name the film or actor today. But there’s so much more to savor in this film – Lloyd’s fourth feature. Watching Saftey Last! 92 years after its initial release one can only marvel at the both the precision and poignancy of the stunts and story. My twelve year-old son sat next to me and laughed throughout the film’s brisk 73 minutes.
Like many silent era stars, Lloyd’s career dried up after the advent of sound. But he’d managed to maintain ownership of his films and the great success he did have carried him financially for many years until his death in 1971. Robert Wagner writes about Lloyd and his personal relationship with the legendary performer in “You Must Remember This” – a good read if you’re interested in Old Hollywood.
Directors: Fred C. Newmeyer, Sam Taylor Writers: Hal Roach (Story), Sam Taylor (Story), Tim Whelan (Story), H.M. Walker (Titles), Producers: Kevin Brownlow, David Gill, Jeffery Vance Cinematographer: Walter Lundin Composers: Carl Davis, Don Hulette, Editor: Thomas J. Crizer
CAST: Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis, Bill Strother, Noah Young, Westcott Clarke
Watched on BLU-RAY from The Criterion Collection
*Most Mondays I watch a classic or historically significant movie that falls into one of these categories: 1) Have never seen it, or 2) Have never seen it uncut, or 3) Have only seen it once, or 4) Haven’t seen it in a very long time.
Some information from: IMDb Pro, BoxOfficeMojo