Harold Lloyd – Safety Last

Safety Last (1923) is a silent film comedy romance classic that earned its star Harold Lloyd his nickname as “the King of Daredevil Comedy.” Lloyd’s films successfully combined sight gags and pathos, along with very ingenious stunts and clever visual elements.

Directed by Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor, this very enjoyable silent film is best remembered for a particularly risky stunt in which comedian Harold Lloyd hangs onto the hand of a clock that is perched on a twelve-story building above the city streets. This scene, both scary and thrilling, was shot with most of the camera compositions including the view of the perilous drop below.

The motion pictures title is based on the familiar phrase, “Safety First.”

In this remarkable scene, Lloyd slowly inches his way up the twelve story building encountering a great many difficulties along the way. They include:

*  pesky wing flapping pigeons that fall on him from above
*  becoming completely entangled in tennis netting
*  a two by four painters platform that blocks his path
*  a swinging window
*  the huge clock from which he dangles
*  an overly aggressive dog
*  a flagpole
*  a mouse that decides to climb up his pant leg
*  a revolving weather vane
*  and, a rope that wraps around his ankle and swings him back and forth from the top of the building

This was no easy climb.

The most memorable obstacle of all was the large clock. For many moments, he hangs on to one hand of the clock while dangling above the street as the clock face slowly pulls off of the wall. This scene presents one of the most famous cinematic moments that has ever been caught on film. 

When finally reaching the the top of the building, he lands in the arms of the girl he loves and the two proceed to walk off together arm and arm except for Lloyd’s shoes and socks which are left behind in fresh roofing tar. He hardly notices. 

Our brave and daring hero earns a thousand dollars in prize money for successfully climbing the building, along with the girl of his dreams.

Harold Lloyd is remembered as one of the great comedic stars of the silent film era alongside legends Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. He is best remembered for his remarkable stunts, all of which he insisted upon doing himself, even after one caused him to lose his right hand thumb and index finger.  

Safety Last is a silent film comedy classic with the clock scene remaining as one of the most daring and extraordinary stunts ever performed during this era in film.

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