Safety Last! (1923)

FRED C. NEWMEYER, SAM TAYLOR

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

USA, 1923.  .  Story by , Sam Taylor, , titles by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by Hal Roach.  Film Editing by .  

Early classic, best known for the famous image of hanging from a giant clock.  Lloyd plays a department store employee who has moved to the city from the sticks in order to make enough money to marry his girl.  She comes for a visit and he pretends to be manager of the establishment even though he is just a lowly clerk, constantly battered and beaten by the scores of women coming in to haggle over fabric choices.  Lloyd discovers the opportunity for a promotion when he is enlisted to come up with a publicity stunt that will bring more customers in through the doors, so he concocts a scheme to have a daredevil friend of his climb the outside of the store from ground to skyscraping top.  A series of misunderstandings and an inconvenient run-in with the law eventually has our hapless hero performing the feat himself, ending up with some classic comedy mishaps as he risks life and limb for his job and his future happiness.  It’s a perfectly orchestrated, skillfully directed gem that is marred only by an unnecessary anti-Semitic swipe (even audiences of the twenties must have thought the pot shot at the hand-wringing jeweler was overdoing it), otherwise you’ll love it.

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