Our ninth review post from JDIFF 2014 comes from Páraic McGeough.
Safety Last! (1923)
Director: Fred C Newmeyer, Sam Taylor
Cast: Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis, Bill Strother
Country of Origin: US
Duration: 73 minutes
Not only was Suzanne on hand to offer some insight into the life of Harold and the trials and tribulations of preserving nitrate film, the screening was accompanied by a live piano performance by Neil Brand. Brand is a renowned silent film accompanist who works chiefly at London’s National Film Theatre as well as composing his own pieces. Not taking a break for the film’s 70 minute duration, it was an impressive feat of flawless playing which thoroughly deserved the standing ovation he received. Having never seen Safety Last! before there couldn’t have been a better way to be introduced to the film.
Lloyd plays “The Boy” who like all good Americans wants nothing more to impress his girl and must climb the business ladder in an attempt to buy her beautiful things. He comes up with the idea of getting his friend to climb to the top of his building in a stunt to attract people to the shop. As good script-writing would have it, the friend can’t do it due to a previous run in with the law, leaving Lloyd to climb it himself. We are then treated to some of the best physical and most tense comedy committed to celluloid.