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Safety Last! (1923)

Not Rated | | Comedy , Thriller | 1 April 1923 (USA)
A store clerk organizes a publicity stunt in which a friend climbs the outside of a tall building.

Directors:

Fred C. Newmeyer (as Fred Neymeyer), Sam Taylor

Writers:

Hal Roach (story), Sam Taylor (story) | 2 more credits »
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ON DISC
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Harold Lloyd ... Harold - The Boy
Mildred Davis ... Mildred, The Girl
Bill Strother Bill Strother ... Bill, The Pal
Noah Young Noah Young ... The Law
Westcott Clarke 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 | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 April 1923 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El hombre mosca See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$121,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$623,809, 31 December 1923
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Hal Roach Studios See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During the famous clock tower stunt, Harold Lloyd is not as far from the ground as he appears. The building on which he climbs was actually a fake wall constructed on the roof of an actual skyscraper and skillfully photographed to maintain the illusion. See more »

Goofs

During the climactic scene, Harold Lloyd is climbing the building we can see a side street, where some cars are parked. As the scene is not really shot in real time, there is a noticeable mismatch between Lloyd's climbing takes and the positions of the cars. See more »

Quotes

Mildred's Mother: Don't you think it's dangerous for a young man to be alone in the city, with so much money? -...
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Climb to Remember
20 November 2005 | by theowinthropSee 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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