Today: June 21, 2024

Safety Last!

Almost 100 years since its release, Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor’s comedy classic Safety Last starring the legendary Harold Lloyd has finally reached Blu-ray in the UK, courtesy of the Criterion Collection. 

The film follows ‘The Boy’ (Lloyd), an ambitious young man who moves to the city seeking success and fortune so that he can marry his sweetheart (Mildred  Davis). When $1000 is offered to anyone who can improve foot traffic to the store in which The Boy works, Lloyd’s bespectacled hero hilariously comes up with a very dangerous plan to climb the 12-storey building as a publicity stunt in a bid to win the prize and settle down with his love.

It is here that Safety Last is at its best – and most iconic, culminating in that legendary clock shot that we all know. The incredible camerawork and stunts from Lloyd and the crew give the climactic climb an astonishing realism, offering the most vertigo-inducing scenes in cinema history. It is cinema legend that, upon the film’s release in the early 1920s, nurses were on-hand in the lobbies of theatres screening the film to deal with the many audience members suffering sickness as a result of the film’s dizzying visuals! 

Criterion’s Blu-ray release boasts an utterly stunning 2K restoration that looks wonderfully sharp throughout. Two different scores are offered – Carl Davis’ 1989 orchestral score and an alternate, improvised score from organist Gaylord Carter recorded in 1969. Both sound wonderful and different enough to warrant checking out both, although Davis’ newer score certainly sounds crisper with more depth.

A wealth of excellent special features including a commentary, three Harold Lloyd short films and a feature length documentary on the star round out this wonderful package that finally gives the masterpiece the release it deserves. With hilarious gags and breathtaking stunts, Safety Last certainly lives up to its reputation as one of the silent era’s finest films – even almost 100 years later.

SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Introduction from Suzanne Lloyd
  • Commentary with film critic Leonard Maltin and Harold Lloyd’s archivist, director Richard Correll
  • Three Short Films – Take a Chance, Young Mr Jazz, His Royal Slyness
  • Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius – two-part television documentary 
  • Locations and Effects featurette
  • Carl Davis: Scoring for featurette
  • 22-page illustrated booklet featuring Ed Park’s essay “High-Flying Harold”
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