Safety Last 1923
Remastered Harold Lloyd "Safety Last"
New restoration screened at the James River Film Festival on April 13, 2013
"Just hang on until I ditch this cop..."
Harold Lloyd's best known silent film comedy was shown at the James River Film Festival in Richmond Virginia. The restored film was given it's first screening at the festival, and officials of the festival gave talks before and afterward describing the history of the film and anecdotes about Lloyd based upon interviews with Lloyd's grand-daughter Suzanne Lloyd Hayes.
Also discussed was Lloyd's emergence during the 1960s as one of the "big three" of silent film comediens, joining Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin as the most recognized of the silent era film clowns.
In particular it was noted how Lloyd continued to control the legal ownership of his films over the decades, and his decision regarding not wanting them 'edited for television' meant that while Chaplin and Keaton shorts were appearing throughout America, Lloyd was absent.
The restored print was clear and sharp (with a lot of film grain showing in some segments), and easily surpassed the quality of earlier DVD releases of the film I had seen (And Amazon has it: BluRay Safety Last pre-order).
Showing the movie in the 1928 Byrd Theater movie house in RIchmond was also fitting, as the theater is one of the longest running movie facilities in America, and is a representative structure of the faux-Rococo style of movie house which were built in the hundreds during the 1920s and 30s, but with few remaining today.
Seeing Lloyd's efforts to climb the International Savings Building in Los Angeles was much more impressive on a large screen, and Lloyd's skill at combining his special effects with actual film footage of dangling from a building, which is the main centerpiece of the movie, is unique (and has been copied numerous times, for example Spielberg's Back to the Future and the Martin Scorsese's Hugo both specifically reference Lloyd's 1923 film.)
The attending audience enjoyed the film and laughed quite a bit at the antics of the tale. And, like most Harold Lloyd films, he does win the girl in the end (played by actress Anna Tounsend, in her last film appearance of her career).
The print used 2K digital film restoration, and had an accompanying complete orchestrated soundtrack by Carl Davis.
The new restored print version is coming out from Criterion in June on BluRay (amazon pre-order).
Original page April 2013
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