My good friend Laura at Miscellaneous Musings, in composing a list of ten classic movies that she has never seen and revolves to do so in 2013, invited other bloggers to offer up their takes on the first film on her list, the 1923 Harold Lloyd comedy classic Safety Last! Here is Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s contribution.
It shouldn’t be any secret to anyone who’s kept up with the comings and goings of this ‘umble scrap of the blogosphere all these years that I am a huge fan of movie comedy. Huge. (And I don’t mean just in size—I mean…well, imagine me as Donald Trump: “Huuuuuuggggge…”) My obsession with movie comedy began at a very early age. As a kid, I loved cartoons. (And now that I’m a bigger kid, I still love them.) But I also enjoyed watching the antics of the great clowns like Laurel & Hardy, The Three Stooges, W.C. Fields and the Marx Brothers. And even though I don’t care for most child actors, I still feel Our Gang (or as they are also known, the Little Rascals) are in a class far above the average movie juvenile thesp.
I have also been known to rave about The Freshman (1925) in the past as well. If I had to recommend a movie to someone who had never seen one of Harold’s comedies…Safety Last! (1923) would most assuredly get the nod. It’s inarguably the most famous of his features—even someone who’s never seen it is familiar with the iconic image that opened this post: a man in a straw hat and glasses, dangling from a large clock. The photo has been reproduced a number of times…and imitated as well.
The plot of the film is fairly simple. Harold plays a country boy who goes to the big city to make his fortune, and sends progress reports home to his best girl (Mildred Davis, who would become Mrs. Harold Lloyd while Safety was being previewed), embellishing about his menial job as a department store clerk. Mildred pays Harold a visit at the store one day, and a fitfully funny series of gags has our hero attempting to pull off the masquerade that he’s no mere flunky but the man in charge (the general manager).