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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Safety Last! (1923) d. Fred Newmeyer & Sam Taylor

This iconic image is of Harold Lloyd dangling from a clock mounted to the outside of the building he is scaling during the climax of Safety Last!

Movie Review
Safety Last! (1923)
 d. Fred Newmeyer & Sam Taylor
Criterion Collection #662

  The silent film era is another huge blind-spot for me. Silent films are one area of cinema where the Criterion Collection is of particular value.  I've made intermittent attempts to watch silent film era movies on Netflix or DVD at various times, and I'm always disappointed by the degraded quality of the film.  Of course, it goes without saying that when you watch a silent film within the Criterion Collection it has been restored.

  Safety Last! is billed as a good introduction to Harold Lloyd, the third of the "big three" of Silent film era comedy (Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton are the other two.  I haven't watched enough of any of them to make comparisons.  Before Safety Last! I hadn't seen a single Harold Lloyd film.  Safety Last! is an enjoyable romp, with brisk pacing and an accompanying soundtrack (from 1989) that really levels up the watch-ability quotient.

  Also, Safety Last! is only 73 minutes long, so it isn't a huge time commitment.  The final scene, where Lloyd scales the outside of a 12 story building, delivers multiple 'how did they do that' moments when you see Lloyd's stunt double (?) actually on the outside of a twelve story building with an assembled crowd below.  It's a true gee whiz moment that I do not typically associate with silent films, let alone silent comedies.

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