“Safety Last!”

Harold Lloyd made a huge number of silent, and sound comedy films. For a long time he was Lonesome Luke, a kind of Chaplin clone. But so many people did that.

But if you know about Lloyd, that’s not the image you think of. Harold Lloyd hit his most famous character with the spectacles and the hat:

This Harold was the rather meek, gentle victim of circumstance.

His most famous film is “Safety Last!” Released in 1923, black and white and a silent film running about 75 minutes.

In it, Harold plays a country boy who comes to the big city to be famous. He writes home, telling the folks, and his girl, how successful he has become. It’s a lie. He is working in a store dealing with difficult customers:

The girl comes to visit. The store is looking for publicity. Harold and his friend have an idea, the friend will climb up the outside of the store. But there’s a problem – the police are after the friend. Harold will have to start the climb and then the friend will take over.

As Harold climbs the outside of the store, circumstances force him higher and into more precarious situations. It’s funny and scary.

Of course, Lloyd himself did not climb the outside of any building. Insurance wouldn’t allow that, for a start. There was a stuntman who did the shots of the building, plus a carefully constructed set on top of other buildings to give the illusion of the climb.

Lloyd became associated with this kind of comedy, though others had done similar (eg Laurel and Hardy). He remade it, as “Feet First” in 1930, with sound.

Lloyd made more films and some are quite fun, but eventually he moved away and occupied himself wth other interests, especially photography.

“Safety Last!” is available on home media and is worth watching in its entirety.

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