Safety Last! (1923)
Genre: Silent Action Comedy Family Romance
Starring: Harold Lloyd (Girl Shy, The Kid Brother)
Directed By: Fred C. Newmeyer (Girl Shy), Sam Taylor (The Cat's Paw)
Overview: When the girlfriend of a lowly department store clerk makes a surprise visit to see his big important job, he comes up with a plan that will earn him $1000 for a publicity stunt... scaling the side of the department store building.
Acting: I was just talking about how Chaplin always used different leading ladies, and Keaton did it too, but Lloyd usually kept Mildred Davis as his leading lady in most of his films. I guess given that she was Harold's wife, that would make sense. In this, they both do as great a job as always, masters of the pantomime.
Cinematography: The highlight is the building scaling, yes, but there's some interesting choreography scenes too (not the dancing kind, the coordinated stunt-timing kind). Adding some elaborate stunts and kicks in the asses of cops to a well-budgeted bunch of sets and scenes, nice and fun.
Script: Silent film. Less talk, more walk, you know what I'm saying? When you do slapstick it's fine to throw in a few jokes here and there, and Lloyd's writers have the formula bang on, without doing it too often. I guess when audiences had such a high degree of illiteracy, they preferred a film without all the yacking, huh?
Plot: The story is one of those comedic tales of a man trying to impress his girl by pretending to be the general manager, while running into said manager all the time and trying to explain to the girlfriend the reasons why he's acting so strange. It's cute, it's funny, it's fluff without too much of a point other than getting the girl in the end. What? You wanted high drama?
Mood: The stunts in this film aren't even that impressive. Yes they're impressive when you think of the character being high up on the side of a building, but all he does is climb, and relatively slowly. It looked scarier watching the women freak out on the clerks during the big sale, but that actually IS a scary thing to watch. Oh Lord, I'm flashing back to the Cabbage Patch Kid Trample of '83. I need a Valium...
Overall Rating: 74% (A Little Too Safe If You Ask Me)
Aftertaste: This, after reading many accounts, is considered to be Harold Lloyd's best work. I don't have any idea why. After this, I watched Harold's Girl Shy, and that movie was easily twice as stunty, twice as funny and twice as memorable. Either way, I'm glad I got around to seeing this finally, but if you really want to see something exciting, Girl Shy is the Lloyd for you.
You know, even The Kid Brother was better than this...