Harold Lloyd’s Glasses character was a real go-getter. The middle-class boy next door could accomplish anything he put his mind to. And it made him immensely popular with the rah-rah-rah mentality of the Roaring Twenties. 1923’s Safety Last! might be his best, and funniest, showing off skills in pantomime and daredevil theatrics. The first half of the film finds Lloyd working behind the counter in a chaotic department store—it’s a cyclone of women fighting for bolts of fabric and Lloyd’s attention. The second half of the movie finds Lloyd clinging to the outside of that store, inadvertently free climbing it as a stunt to drum up business. Everything imaginable gets in his way: Clocks, windows, robes, poles, ladders, pigeons… It’s a riot. Streaming on The Criterion Channel, Kanopy, and HBO Max.
For those of you living in the Boulder/Denver area and want to see Lloyd’s death-defying stunts on the big screen, Safety Last! will kick off the 2021 Chautauqua Summer of Silents. The film will be preceded by another Lloyd short, Number Please, with silent pianist extraordinaire Hank Troy accompanying both. Tickets start at $7 and the show starts 7 p.m.