Safety Last: This Sunday
13 January 2012
Safety Last? Shouldn't it be safety first in the workplace? But I guess that wouldn't make quite as funny a film... Anyway, Safety Last is a 1923 silent comedy staring the legendary Harold Lloyd as a clerk in a department store. He persuades his boss that a stuntman should climb the face of the store as a publicity stunt, a great idea until the stuntman can't make it. So Harold steps in (bit daft really… would you scale the front of your workplace for your boss?)
Lloyd's climb up the building is one of the most iconic scenes from silent cinema and when you think it was done with minimal safety equipment (only scaffolding out of shot), it makes your heart skip a beat. Actors definitely have it easier today; Lloyd completed nearly all of his own stunts in Safety Last, even though he lost a thumb and a forefinger in an accident while filming Haunted Spooks in 1919. Not only does he end up 12 storeys in the air, some of the things he has to contend with include flapping pigeons, flagpoles, mice up his trousers and even a tennis net!
Lloyd's career spanned from1914 to 1947 making him a real-life actor who made a successful transition from silent movies to talkies, something that George Valentin finds so difficult in the current release, The Artist (a fantastic film, read more about it here). Some more Lloyd facts for you, he actually made more films and money than Charlie Chaplin and the big round specs that he wore (apparently as he was too good looking to be a comedy actor) are said to have influenced Clark Kent.