You already know the iconic image of Harold Lloyd hanging on the arm of a clock for dear life, way up high on the side of a building, as traffic races below. But you may not be familiar with “Safety Last!” the hilarious, silent film classic that moment comes from. Thankfully, Janus Films are bringing the restoration to cinemas before it drops on DVD in June from their pals over at The Criterion Collection.
While he might not be as well known as Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton, back in the day, Harold Lloyd was not only just as popular, he was more profitable than either of those icons. In 1928 he was the highest paid movie star, with his movies outgrossing his silent comedy competition, but like many from the era, the transition to the world of sound marked the end of his career, as he was unable to figure a way make his routines work within the new format. But he leaves behind a tremendous and often rewarding body of work (this box set is kind of a must have) and “Safety Last!” is one of the best in the bunch.
The film employs the basic premise of a kid trying to make it in the big city and impress a girl, as uses it as a launchpad for a series of comic gags, culminating in the infamous setpiece. And yes, Lloyd did all his own stunts, and while he wasn’t really hanging that high off the ground (camerawork made it look much higher), he was still about three stories up, which is still not a pleasant drop. But either way, once you’re in the midst of the movie, you’re just taken in by the sheer spectacle of it all. And fun fact: Lloyd married his co-star in the film, Mildred Davis.
Anyway, give the trailer a peek below and click right here for all the showtimes.