Safety Last! (1923)


Safety Last!

I was watching a Blu-Ray collection on YouTube, and this was one of the titles in their collection. Obviously, I recognize the iconic image of Harold Lloyd hanging from a clock way above street level. I saw that there was a Criterion and then made the educate guess that this was on HBO Max. I am so grateful it was. Wow. This is 73 minutes of non stop entertainment and a fantastic watch from beginning to end. Harold Lloyd doesn’t usually get the attention that a contemporary like Charlie Chaplin gets but boy is he a force in this film.

The film is about a man who leaves a small town to go to the big city to make something of himself. He wants to marry his girlfriend back home however he does not have enough funny. The film follows him on his daily adventures until it leads to an opportunity to make a grand from attracting customers to the department store that he works out. Without getting too deep into the plot, the man finds himself right in the center of it all. The film also starts Mildred Davis, Lloyd’s long time on screen partner and his real life wife.

Its crazy to think that this film was made close to 100 years ago and is still massively enjoyable today. Lloyd is a natural, he performs most of his stunts in this (with the exception of the infamous clock scene and parts of the climb) but he’s just all around fantastic and has a charismatic presence typically of a silent film star of this era. The film has such a simple light plot and its all brought together wonderfully every step of the way. The on screen shenanigans is just all around clever and funny.

I greatly appreciate early Hollywood cinema and silent films because its a form of film we just can’t get today. Being able to portray so much with just a score and words on screen, this goes to show the endearing nature and quality of films that can stand the test of time, such as Safety Last! I’ve seen a few silent films mostly stuff of Charlie Chaplin but this ranks among the very best that I have experienced. The film is short and passes like a  breeze but your eyes will be glued to the screen the entire way through.



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