Safety Last! (1923)
“Safety Last!” is a classic silent comedy film released in 1923, directed by Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor, and featuring the legendary comedian Harold Lloyd in the lead role.
The film is celebrated for its iconic and thrilling clock tower stunt sequence, which has become one of the most enduring images in the history of cinema.
The story of “Safety Last!” revolves around the character of Harold, played by Harold Lloyd. He is a young, ambitious man who leaves his small hometown to seek his fortune in the big city. Harold’s goal is to make it in the business world and impress his sweetheart, Mildred, played by Mildred Davis, who follows him to the city.
However, life in the city is not as easy as Harold had anticipated. He finds himself working at a low-paying job in a department store and struggles to make ends meet. Mildred, unaware of Harold’s challenges, believes he is successful and works in an executive position.
To impress Mildred and prove his worth, Harold hatches a plan to stage a publicity stunt for the department store. The idea is to have a human fly scale the exterior of the tall building, creating a spectacle that will draw crowds and attract media attention. As part of the plan, Harold will climb the building himself, unbeknownst to his girlfriend and the store’s management.
The film’s most famous and memorable sequence occurs as Harold attempts to climb the department store’s exterior, using ledges, pipes, and scaffolding to reach the top. His perilous journey up the building becomes increasingly treacherous, leading to moments of comedy and suspense as he encounters numerous obstacles and mishaps.
The climactic scene takes place on the clock tower, where Harold dangles from the clock’s hands, high above the city streets. The suspenseful and acrobatic sequence is a testament to Harold Lloyd’s physical comedy skills and his daring stunts. It is an enduring symbol of silent film comedy and a heart-pounding moment that continues to captivate audiences.
Throughout “Safety Last!,” Harold’s mishaps and misadventures provide a continuous stream of humor. The film is a prime example of the “thrill comedy” genre, popular in the silent film era, which combined physical comedy with daring stunts and situations.
Harold Lloyd, known for his “Glasses Character” and his trademark round glasses, was one of the “Big Three” silent comedians, along with Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. His comedic style often revolved around the struggles of an ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances, making him relatable to audiences.
The film’s release was a resounding success, and it further solidified Harold Lloyd’s status as a leading figure in silent comedy. “Safety Last!” remains an iconic and cherished classic of the silent film era, remembered for its laughter-inducing comedy, heart-pounding stunts, and the indelible image of Harold Lloyd hanging from the clock tower, symbolizing the audacious spirit of early cinema.
Release Date: April 1st, 1923
Main Cast Members
Harold Lloyd (The Boy – Harold)
Mildred Davis (The Girl)
Bill Strother (The Pal)
Noah Young (The Law)
Westcott Clarke ( The Floorwalker)
Roy Brooks (Man Laughing from Window)
Mickey Daniels (Newsboy with Freckles)
Richard Daniels (Worker with Acetylene Torch)