Safety Last!

safety last!
dir. hal roach

When I first added Safety Last! to the Rosebud list, I wrongly attributed it to Buster Keaton. I didn’t know who Harold Lloyd was until the opening credits played here, and how happy I am now that I do. He’s much more than the namesake of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels’ goons in Dumb and Dumber; he’s perhaps the greatest comedian to come out of the silent era.


First of all, what a babe. He had just as much talent as (and some would argue even more than) his counterparts of the era, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. However, he pulled a Prince and made his work less acceptable; no public domain, high demands for television rights, etc. He was in complete control of his work, and he took good care of it (his film stocks were in his care and immaculately stored, until a fire broke out in his home and destroyed many of them).

Safety Last! is perhaps his best known feature, notably for the shot of him dangling from the clock, which has become a staple image of the silent era. It follows his well-known “Glasses” character, a charming go-getter, who travels to the City to make a handsome living for himself, in hopes that his Girl will lead a happy life with him. Writing home, he makes his success seem much larger than it is (in reality, he works as a salesman at a large department store), and when his Girl pays an unexpected visit, he has to really sell his life.

“Young man, don’t you know you might fall and get hurt?”

Another gem of the silent era!  Not full of LOLs, but the situations are entertaining and Harold Lloyd is a joy to watch. Woo!


moviesAvailable in standard definition via YouTube and high definition via Hulu Plus.
criterion-icon Criterion Spine #662


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