A stuntman revealed for the first time in the television documentary, Hollywood (1980), that Harold Lloyd actually climbed a fake building facade that was constructed over another building's rooftop, positioned so the camera angle could capture the street scene below. The stuntman also revealed that he doubled for Lloyd in the long shots of him climbing the building in the distance. Up until then, even the Time-Life version of Safety Last! (1923) that was aired on PBS contained an opening title declaring that Harold Lloyd climbed the building himself and without the use of a stuntman or trick photography. The stuntman chose to suppress this information until Lloyd's death, and yet, he did not want to detract from the danger of Lloyd's actual stunt work. Lloyd performed the majority of the stunts himself on the rigged facade over a small platform, which was built near the rooftop's edge and still had to be raised a great height to get the proper street perspective for the camera. The size of the platform did not offer much of a safety net, and had Lloyd fallen, there was the risk he could have tumbled off the platform.
In 1919 Harold Lloyd was handed what he thought was a prop bomb, which he lit with his cigarette. It turned out to be real and exploded, blowing off Lloyd's right thumb and index finger, and putting him in the hospital for months. When he recovered, he went back to making movies, wearing a white glove while on screen to hide his damaged right hand. He did his stunts in this film and Feet First (1930), dangling from ledges, clocks and windows, using only eight fingers.
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.
Harold Lloyd got the idea for this film when he saw Bill Strother climbing the Brockman Building in Los Angeles as a stunt one day. Lloyd - who had a difficult time watching anyone else perform a dangerous stunt because he had no control over that situation - hid behind a corner, peeking to check on Strother's progress every few moments. After Strother reached the roof, Lloyd went up and introduced himself.
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.
According to the dates on the pawn ticket at the beginning and the customer complaint form later on, the main action of this film takes place between 05 May and 30 June 1922. The entire action of the finale, therefore, takes place 01 July 1922.
Premiere ranked this movie as number one on its "The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time" list in 2006. (It should be noted that this list was ranked chronologically, so this movie's number one ranking only reflects that it is the oldest movie on the list.)
The time clock at the department store was made by what would become IBM at the time of this film. It came in models to accommodate 50, 100, or 150 employees. It works by turning the handle then pressing a pin into a hole by the employee's number. An internal paper tape then records that number and the time.
while showing this film at the Opera House theatre in Lake Benton, Minnesota, the manager advertised that there would be "Special reenforced seats with straps for hysterical persons. Doctor in attendance both nights." ( Lake Benton News. 20 June 1924)
One of the street scenes in the sequence in which Harold attempts to get back to work after being "kidnapped" in the laundry van was filmed opposite the M. Kantor Furniture Company. According to the 1926 Los Angeles phone directory, the company was founded in 1902, and their premises was located at 734-736 South Main St, Los Angeles.