Clare's Criterion Collection

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Safety Last ! – Review # 9

on October 21, 2013

Spine # 662

Available on Blu-ray & DVD

Special features:

  • New, restored 2K digital film transfer
  • Musical score by composer Carl Davis from 1989, synchronized and restored under his supervision and presented in uncompressed stereo on the Blu-ray edition
  • Alternate score by organist Gaylord Carter from the late 1960s, presented in uncompressed monaural on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary featuring film critic Leonard Maltin and director and Harold Lloyd archivist Richard Correll
  • Introduction by Suzanne Lloyd, Lloyd’s granddaughter and the president of Harold Lloyd Entertainment
  • Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius, a 108-minute documentary from 1989
  • Three newly restored Lloyd shorts: Take a Chance (1918), Young Mr. Jazz (1919), and His Royal Slyness (1920), with commentary by Correll and film writer John Bengtson
  • Locations and Effects, a new documentary featuring Bengtson and visual-effects expert Craig Barron
  • New interview with Davis
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by critic Ed Park

Please note that whilst I try to not give away vital plot details/scenes/developments of the film, some reviews may contain mild spoilers.

Review

It has been a week since I watched this film and after much thinking and replaying of scenes in my head, I can’t over my overwhelming feeling of disappointment.

To be honest I am surprised The Boy ever made it out of Great Bend given his high level of incompetence.  Whilst too busy talking he picks up a baby then instead of jumping on the train he finds himself on a cart.  But make it to the big city he did.  Of course not everything goes to plan for him.  He has lofty dreams of power and money, alas all he has is a genius was of hiding from the Landlady when she calls for the rent (this part I did actually find funny).

Of course this failure is not posted back home, oh no, our Boy has to lead his fiancé to believe that he has success and showers her with gifts (cheap ones) to show his “wealth”.  This is all done via letter, which he writes everyday.  Whilst writing one of those letters that our Boy nearly loses his job.  Trying to find a comfortable position leads him to sit of the tail end of a delivery truck.  Foolishly he swings his legs inside and the driver, who happens to be very hard of hearing, closes the doors.  All the banging and shouting is in vain and he must wait until the driver arrives at his next stop.  A streetcar (a fight to get on board that I fully understood, I live with the Toronto Transit Commission), a lift from a stranger (unlucky for the driver) and an ambulance (miracle recovery) all combine to get our Boy back to the department store where he works as a lowly fabric clerk.

Now Boy is not alone in this film, he has a Pal.  As well as showing off to his fiancé back home with the fake stories, Boy cannot resist the showing off his connection to a local Policeman (friend from Great Bend).  Predictably this all goes pear shaped and Pal is quickly on the run from the police.  It is during this chase that we first come across the idea that leads to the now iconic image of the film.

Believing all hype in the letters his fiancé arrives in the big city, cue chaos.  In order to keep up the pretence of success he assumes the role of Manager, much to the annoyance of his co-workers.  A sneaky visit to the office of the real Manager brings about the crazy idea in which Boy uses the skills of Lad to raise the much-needed money ($1000) to continue duping his fiancé.  And what is this crazy idea?  climb the Bolton building in which DeVore Department Store is located.  Will everything go to plan, ha ha, not a chance!

Now this is all a publicity stunt for the Store so naturally there were lots of people and lots of people need to be controlled by the police and oh yes, Lad, who just happens to be acting as body-double for Boy, is a wanted man.  Of course, he is spotted so poor old Boy is lumbered with the job himself.  Lad does try to shake off the copper, each floor there is renewed hope for Boy, alas, the copper just won’t stop chasing!  Of course there is a happy ending, though Boy does manage to lose his socks & shoes!

I have yet to watch the Criterion Special Edition Features that come with this copy.  In order to try and gain a little more insight into the film, and maybe enjoy a little more second time around, I shall pay close attention to the audio commentary feature by Leonard Maltin & Richard Correll.

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