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Safety Last! (1923)

8.3
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 10,380 users  
Reviews: 68 user | 61 critic

When a store clerk organizes a publicity stunt, in which a friend climbs the outside of a tall building, circumstances force him to make the perilous climb himself.

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(as Fred Neymeyer) ,

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(story), (story), 4 more credits »
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Title: Safety Last! (1923)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
The Girl
Bill Strother ...
The Pal
Noah Young ...
The Law
Westcott Clarke ...
The Floorwalker (as Westcott B. Clarke)
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Storyline

In 1922, the country boy Harold says goodbye to his mother and his girlfriend Mildred in the train station and leaves Great Bend expecting to be successful in the big city. Harold promises to Mildred to get married with her as soon as he "make good". Harold shares a room with his friend "Limpy" Bill and he finally gets a job as salesman in the De Vore Department Store. However, he pawns Bill's phonograph, buys a lavaliere and writes to Mildred telling that he is a manager of De Vore. One day, Harold sees an old friend from Great Bend that is a policeman and when he meets his friend Bill, he asks Bill to push the policeman over him and make him fall down. However Bill pushes the wrong policeman that chases him, but he escapes climbing up a building. Out of the blue, Mildred is convinced by her mother to visit Harold without previous notice and he pretends to be the manager of De Vore. When Harold overhears the general manager telling that he would give one thousand dollars to to anyone... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

1 April 1923 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Monte là-dessus!  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

It was revealed for the first time by film historian Jeffrey Vance (in the June 2006 Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Silent Film Gala program book for SAFETY LAST!) that Robert A. Golden routinely doubled for Harold Lloyd between 1921-1927. Previously, Golden was merely credited as Lloyd's assistant director and not Lloyd's double. According to Vance, Golden doubled Lloyd in the bit with Harold shimmy shaking off the building's ledge after a mouse crawls up his trousers. See more »

Goofs

A line can be seen attached to the man's toupee. This is what causes it to fly off his head, not the mouse that lands on him. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Twice Upon a Time (1983) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Climb to Remember
20 November 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It has truly said that while THE FRESHMAN, or SPEEDY, or THE KID BROTHER, are better films, SAFETY LAST is the film that everyone who never saw a Harold Lloyd comedy recalls. That is because in one moment on the screen he engraved himself forever into the minds of movie lovers (something, oddly enough, Chaplin and Keanton never quite did in a single moment of film). Lloyd, of course, became immortal for being the man suspended from the clock of the building he was climbing in the concluding half hour of this wonderful comedy. There is more to the film than that of course. Harold, here in love with his home town girlfriend Mildred Davis (who was his wife in real life), has sacrificed money to buy her jewelry, and has been sending her letters lying about his business success. He claims he is a bigwig at the department store he is a clerk in. Actually he is constantly in hot water with the pompous floor walker, Mr. Stubbs (Westcott Clarke). After he sends a second gift to Mildred she decides to join him in the city. He manages to pass himself off as the store's general manager (don't ask - you have to see how he does it). But she wants to get married now - he's making enough supposedly for a house. His best friend is a human fly (Bill Strother), so Harold proposes to the actual general manager a publicity stunt wherein a mystery man will climb the department store facade (15 stories). Unfortunately, Police Officer Noah Young has a grudge against Strother, and keeps preventing him from climbing. So Harold has to climb up the side - with Strother promising to take over at the right moment once he shakes off Young.

Although Chaplin and Keaton's physical comedy included dangers to them (Keaton and the water fall in OUR HOSPITALITY, for example), the climb up the store's facade is considered in a class by itself. Certainly it is one of the few comedy stunts that have been taken apart and analyzed over the years (even when we know how it was done, it still impresses us). The stunt got a life of it's own, beyond the famous clock photograph, because the film's theme is the success theme in American business life. Harold wants to make it in business, and he's just a down-trodden clerk. To make it rich, and to get his girl, he has to risk all on a $1,000.00 gamble. He does in the end, with his "climbing" having been cleverly compared to "climbing" the business ladder or getting ahead in America. When he seems to retreat at one point some of the onlookers shake their heads and point upward. Once he is on his route to success, he can't turn back.

The film is more fun than that particularly good interpretation makes it sound. It deserves a 10 for it's success at remaining a humorous and lasting peace of cinematic comic art, and a fitting monument to that comedy master Harold Lloyd.


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