This Week’s Criterion Releases: ‘Safety Last!’ and ‘Marketa Lazarová’ Define Discovery

At the risk of generalization, The Criterion Collection is probably best known for packaging two types of films: celebrated canonical works that deserve pristine treatment; and comparably worthwhile but overlooked or unavailable films in need of a resurrection. Two of this week’s DVD/Blu-ray releases from Criterion – Harold Lloyd’s iconic silent comedy Safety Last and Czech auteur František Vláčil’s largely unheard-of-in-the-us Marketa Lazarová – exemplify the very best of both these tendencies, giving cinephiles an opportunity to “discover” in various ways both an undisputed classic and a challenging, largely unknown masterpiece of form and tone. Safety Last! In his book “The Thrill Makers: Celebrity Masculinity, and Stunt Performance,” which covers the acts of 20th century daredevils whose public performances quickly became the stuff of American cinema, historian Jacob Smith explains how and why the famous image of Harold Lloyd dangling from the hand of a clocktower came to be during the early 1920s: Indeed, Lloyd
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