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Safety Last! Blu-ray Review

Safety Last! Blu-ray

“Safety Last!” is a silent comedy classic.

In his most well known feature length motion picture (“Safety Last!”), silent film actor Harold Lloyd stars as Harold, a young man who ventures off to the big city to make enough money to have a future with his girlfriend (Mildred). Harold’s big city life is hardly ideal, however, as he makes low wages at a struggling department and becomes saddled with a troublemaker roommate named Bill. Thankfully, Harold’s misfortunes change when hears that the department store manager is offering $1,000 to anyone who can attract attention to the store. Seeing this as a why to solve their financial woes, Harold and Bill decide to come up with a climbing stunt that will make them both wealthy. After the planned climber Bill gets in trouble with a policeman (AKA The Law) though, you can probably guess who becomes stuck with doing the dangerous climbing stunt.

When it comes to silent comedians, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton usually receive all of the attention, but Harold Lloyd was on par with both of them. Unlike Keaton or Chaplin, Lloyd often played the charming, identifiable everyman who just wanted to find a proper job and a lovely woman to spend his life with. With “Safety Last!,”  the film really encapsulates the best of the spectacled comedian’s work  as this movie really has it all. There’s clever comedy, heart, stunts, chase scenes, romance, hilarious Harold Lloyd expressions, a crab walk, and an intense, supremely well choreographed, iconic climactic sequence which sees Lloyd hanging from a massive clock hand atop a building while Bill is chase by The Law. What more could a film fan want?

Video/Audio:

Presented in 1.37:1 1080p, “Safety Last!” has been beautifully restored. Yes, there are lines and lots of grain, but you can’t deny that this is the best print of the film to date. The details and images have never been so crystal clear. Just look at the attention to detail on the clothing items at the department store or the large crowd shots for proof.

This disc contains two audio tracks. First up is an Uncompressed Stereo track featuring a restored score by Carl Davis. Personally, I think this is the track to go with as Carl Davis is basically a silent film score staple nowadays. The alternate Uncompressed Mono track featuring an organ score by Gaylord Carter doesn’t fit the movie to me like the score by Davis does.

Extras:
* A booklet featuring photos and an essay by author Ed Park.
* “Suzanne Lloyd Introduction”- The granddaughter of Harold Lloyd chats about “Safety Last!”
* “Carl Davis: Scoring For Harold”- The modern popular silent film composer talks about Harold Lloyd and his scores for his films. A nice piece.
* “Locations and Effects”- Writer John Bengston and FX expert Craig Barron discuss Lloyd’s stunts, the in camera effect clock scene in “Safety Last!,” Los Angeles locals where silent films shot, Lloyd shorts, etc. An informative extra that will appeal to Harold Lloyd and film history buffs.
* “Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius”- A 2 part documentary that covers the life and career of Harold Lloyd. This is a great extra that sheds light on the underrated and often overlooked comedian.
* The best extras on this set are far and away the restored Harold Lloyd shorts “Take A Chance,” “Young Mr. Jazz,” and “His Royal Slyness.” Seeing these 3 shorts makes me hope Criterion puts out more Lloyd films and or shorts in the future
* Commentary by film critic Leonard Maltin and Harold Lloyd expert Richard Correll. The two provide plenty of factoids about sets, stunts, Lloyd’s missing finger, Lloyd’s films and shorts, the story and direction, etc. It’s nice to hear an informative commentary that isn’t (or at least doesn’t feel) scripted. Highly recommended.

Summary: If you’ve never experienced the work of Harold Lloyd before, now is the time to check him out. Not only his “Safety Last!” one of his best films, but it’s also the best Criterion Blu-ray release of 2013 so far (in my humble opinion).

June 17, 2013 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , ,

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