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The Harold Lloyd silent comedy classic comes to vivid high-def life on Criterion's new Blu-ray edition...
Criterion / 84 Minutes / 1923 / Unrated / Street Date: June 18, 2013
There’s no value in resisting a high-def title like this one. Fred C. Newmeyer’s and Sam Taylor’s 1923 feature-length comedy starring the intrinsically iconic Harold Lloyd is an imperative piece of silent cinema, a motion picture that every serious cinephile needs to have at least a marginal familiarity with. Hipster movie dorks might ramble on in a Lloyd vs. Chaplin vs. Keaton diatribe, but wherever your particular sentiments lie (Keaton all the way, am I right?), this Criterion edition is a compilation that quite simply just needs to be seen.
Even non-movie types recognize the imagery from Safety Last’s cover art here – Harold Lloyd dangling from a giant clock over a city street – and even if this movie as an 84-minute whole isn’t exactly a moment-for-moment classic, once the film hits its climactic sequence, it’s impossible not to fall under its spell. The picture’s narrative set-up involving a man (Lloyd) heading to the big city in order to make enough money to marry his hometown sweetheart (Mildred Davis) is nothing of any major note, but this Blu-ray edition at the very least allows for a shot-for-shot analysis of the film’s legendary climactic moments, and that’s what counts.
To be perfectly honest, this writer found the first 2/3 of Safety Last to be far more pedestrian and uneventful than I remember from my first experience with the movie in film school, but that won’t dampen my loud round of applause for this exceptional Criterion Collection release. The studio has preserved a significant piece of cinematic history for a new generation of viewers and appreciators with marvelous technical savvy. Safety Last might not be everybody’s favorite, but this is nevertheless a museum-quality title – it might be Criterion’s grandest and most important release of the year.