|Lloyd's physical comedy is brilliant.|
Directed by Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor
Produced by Hal Roach
Written by Hal Roach, Sam Taylor, Tim Whelan and H.M. Walker
Starring Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis and Bill Strothers
Plot Summary: A young salesman (Lloyd) comes up with a daring stunt to get money to marry his girlfriend.
Significance: Considered one of the greatest silent comedies of all time, it was added to the National Film Registry by the U.S. National Film Preservation Board in 1994. The film also made the AFI's 100 Years… 100 Thrills list (at #97) for its iconic skyscraper sequence.
Thoughts: I didn't like my first physical comedy blind spot this year, but Safety Last! is a wonderful comedy that lives up to its reputation. Harold Lloyd's brand of physical comedy is exciting and thrilling, and it is used very well in this film. Most of his gags require him to throw his full body into them, as Charles Chaplin and Buster Keaton did. This kind of comedy is fascinating when done well, especially since the stories are often quite thin, as this one is. It's a simple story that, at under 70 minutes, moves very fast, but the physical comedy is what really makes it worth watching. The extended final sequence, which was notably featured in Martin Scorsese's Hugo a few years ago, is breathtaking, as Lloyd climbs a skyscraper with a crowd watching below. It's astounding how great the special effects are in this sequence. Brisk, clever and very entertaining, Safety Last! is one of the best silent comedies I've ever seen.