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SAFETY LAST

USA, 1923 (MIFF 1957, Programme 4)

Director: Fred Newmayer, Sam Taylor

Harold Lloyd was one of the most important comedians of the silent period and in Safely Last he embodies his own principles of screen comedy. It was his ambition to make a thrill picture and the formulae for such a film he defined as "a scream, a laugh and a scream".

Safety Last has the conventional Harold Lloyd plot - young man from hick-town goes to big city, makes good, marries girl from hick-town - but is distinguished from his other films by a brilliant, uniquely sustained slapstick sequence lasting some twenty-five minutes and leading to the film's climax. Involved through a case of mistaken identity into climbing a skyscraper for a publicity stunt, Lloyd meets the most terrifying of slap-slick adventures; this passage is, perhaps, the most frequently anthologised piece of screen comedy.

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