The silent era classic"
Newmeyer | 1923 | 73 mins
"The image of Harold Lloyd hanging desperately from the hands of a skyscraper clock during Safety Last! (1923) is one of the great icons of film history."
In Safety Last Lloyd plays, “the Boy” from small town Great Bend, who is forced to leave his sweetheart (“the Girl”) to earn a crust. He moves to the big city in search of success, but only lands a job as a lowly department store clerk, but in his letters home to his sweetheart he tells her he is the store manager, spending all his wages on lavish gifts for her.
So convincing are his letters, that the girl makes a surprise visit to the city, during which the boy continues to pretend to be the manager, but knows he needs to find a new way to impress her.
Offered $1,000 by the store's real manager if he devises a successful publicity gimmick to attract crowds of people to the store, the Boy hires his roommate and construction worker friend "the Pal” to be a human fly on the outside of the multi-story store in a thrilling stunt, as a publicity stunt for the department store. Their plan is to split the cash after the friend performs the stunt. On the day however, the pal on the run from the law, and the boy is left to climb the building himself.
Eventually, he reaches the top, despite his troubles with a clock and some hungry pigeons, and kisses his girl. She continues to believe that he's general manager of the department store!
Lloyd was "the third genius," the silent film historian Kevin Brownlow declared in a documentary of the same name.
Lloyd ranks alongside Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton as one of the most popular and influential film comedians of the silent film era. Lloyd made nearly 200 comedy films, both silent and "talkies", between 1914 and 1947. He is best known for his bespectacled "Glasses" character, a resourceful, success-seeking go-getter who was perfectly in tune with 1920s era United States.
After acting in several small Hollywood roles Mildred Davis caught the attention of the Director Hal Roach, who pointed her out to comedian Harold Lloyd. Lloyd was looking for a leading lady to replace Bebe Daniels, and cast Davis in his comedy short From Hand to Mouth in 1919.
It would be the first of fifteen films they would star in together. Safety Last marked the end of their on-screen relationship. Instead they married in real life, and had nearly fifty happy years together.
A masterpiece of comic construction, driven by a strong flow of gags, character and narrative. A perfect representation of the art of silent comedy.
The clock-hanging climax that caps this tale of a country boy out to make his fortune in the big city is a superb example of his ability to mix suspense and slapstick.
Geoff Andrew, Time Out
Harold Lloyd manages to make the characters sympathetic enough to carry the audience's concern on his journey of crazy stunts and mishaps. One of the best of this era.
David Parkinson Empire Magazine
Safety Last! is a movie experience par excellence, anchored by a genuine legend.
2 April 2015
Afternoon performance: 3pm
Evening performance: 7pm
All films are shown in University of Greenwich's new state of the art lecture theatre in its Stockwell Street building in the heart of Greenwich. The building has a cafe where you can purchase hot and cold drinks, popcorn and hotdogs!
There is limited parking in Greenwich
Nearest Tube: DLR Greenwich
Bus routes: 386, 378