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Safety Last! Safety Last!

Fred Newmeyer, Sam Taylor / USA / 1923 / 73 min / Silent

A timeless classic from the golden age of silent comedy boasts one of the most iconic shots ever filmed with “the third genius” of silent cinema, Harold Lloyd, hanging desperately from the hands of a skyscraper clock.

Screened at Open-air cinema at Congress Square 2016 on the occasion of the Slovenian Cinematheque’s 20th anniversary, the film was accompanied on piano by one of the world’s leading silent film accompanists, Neil Brand.

Lloyd plays a small-town bumpkin trying to make it in the big city, so that he could send for his sweetheart and marry her. After taking a job as a lowly department-store clerk, he starts sending her expensive gifts, pretending to be the general manager. But when she suddenly shows up in town, he must carry out a dangerous publicity stunt to earn enough money to keep his ruse going.

A timeless classic from the golden age of silent comedy, Safety Last! boasts one of the most iconic shots ever filmed with “the third genius” of silent cinema, Harold Lloyd, hanging desperately from the hands of a skyscraper clock.

“It has been amazing to me that these comedies can still strike a responsive note of laughter with audiences of all ages and in all parts of the world. Laughter is the universal language. It establishes a common identity among people – regardless of other differences. It is the sweetest sound in the whole world.”
- Harold Lloyd

“The comic genius of silent star Harold Lloyd is eternal. Chaplin is the sweet innocent, Keaton the stoic outsider, but Lloyd – the modern guy striving for success – is us. And with its torrent of perfectly executed gags and astonishing stunts, Safety Last! is the perfect introduction to him. /…/ Laugh-out-loud funny and jaw-dropping in equal measure, Safety Last! is a movie experience par excellence, anchored by a genuine legend.”
- The Criterion Collection 

“Needs to be seen on a big screen with a full house ... Lloyd was no YouTube comic, but a master of timing who calibrated each shot to the laughter and gasps of a large public, building crescendos as surely as any great composer.”
- Dave Kehr, The New York Times

“It is by general agreement the most famous shot in silent comedy: a man in a straw hat and round horn-rim glasses, hanging from the minute hand of a clock 12 stories above the city street. Strange, that this shot occurs in a film few people have ever seen. /…/ Lloyd was ‘the third genius,’ the silent film historian Kevin Brownlow declared in a documentary of the same name. Lloyd's films outgrossed those of Chaplin and Keaton in the '20s, if only because he made many more than Chaplin, and his everyman appealed to a wider audience than Keaton. But he is not a genius in their sense, creating comedy out of inspiration and instinct and an angle on the world. ‘He had to think it all out,’ Walter Kerr says of Lloyd in his invaluable 1975 book The Silent Clowns. ‘Lloyd was an ordinary man, like the rest of us: ungrotesque, uninspired. If he wanted to be a successful film comedian, he would have to learn how to be one, and learn the hard way.’”
- Roger Ebert, rogerebert.com

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