What Others Said About
Tom Dardis . . .
"Harold Lloyd's long, torturous climb up the side of
an office building in downtown Los Angeles is among the permanent
images in screen history. Its rivals for sheer memorability include
the Odessa Steps sequence in Eisenstein's 'Potemkin,' Chaplin's
lonely dance of the rolls in 'The Gold Rush,' and Keaton's flight
from all the police of the world in 'Cops.'" (Harold Lloyd,
The Man on the Clock, Penguin Books, 1983)
Richard Schickel . . .
"Lloyd's next feature, 'Safety Last,' is also rather
patchy in construction, and takes a long time to get going. Again,
one has the sense of Lloyd and his gagmen in possession of only
one basic gag and trying to stretch the material around it to
feature length. That one gag, however, is so brilliant, and so
magnificently developed that it quite blots out the longueurs
that precede it. It is his famous 'human fly' routine, in which
he found his immortality - as the man hanging from the face of
a clock a couple of hundred feet above the street." (Harold
Lloyd, The Shape of Laughter, New York Graphic Society,
Walter Kerr . . .
"Made today, its effectiveness would be destroyed by
'process' shooting; actors working, altogether safely, before
previously photographed backgrounds projected on a second screen
behind them. . .
"Lloyd wanted screams and got them honestly. Working
before 'process' had been invented and scorning paint, he went
up an actual building, hand hold by hand hold. He did take what
steps he could to minimize the danger. The department store he
climbed was situated on a hill, which made the drop to the street
beneath seem, at certain angles, a great deal steeper than it
was. But what the camera recorded, at these angles, was factual
recording; the instrument may have been carefully placed, but
what it saw it truly saw." (The Silent Clowns, Alfred
A. Knopf, 1975)
Harold Lloyd . . .
"We did the climb first in 'Safety Last.' We weren't
sure how the picture was going to start. But we had our climb,
and we were very happy with it. It gave us great enthusiasm.
"There was no back projection in those days, of course,
so when you see me climbing, I'm really climbing. We had platforms
built below the skyscraper windows - they were about ten to fifteen
feet below, covered with mattresses. After the picture, we dropped
a dummy onto one of the platforms, and it bounced off into the
street. I must have been crazy to do it." (as quoted in The
Parade's Gone By by Kevin Brownlow, University of California
Richard Koszarski . . .
"The twenties adopted Lloyd as a special icon. In 'Safety
Last' (1923) his character hopes to rise to the top of the department-store
business, a dream that comes true when Harold is forced to climb
the outside of the building. The shot of Lloyd dangling from a
clock face in this film is the most famous image in silent comedy."
(An Evening's Entertainment, The Age of the Silent Feature
Picture, 1915-1928, University of California Press, 1994)
Joe Franklin . . .
"It is fast, clean, and optimistic; gags follow one upon
the other at a breathless rate, and yet each gag is given the
proper time to 'build.' There are no dull stretches, either in
plot or in comedy, and an abundant variety of humor, ranging from
the pathos (often over-stressed in Lloyd's films) of his attempts
to impress his girl by pretending to be a high-powered executive
when he is still a humble clerk, to the fast knockabout of a department
store sale, the subtleties of avoiding paying the landlady her
overdue rent, the speed and pep of a mad race through the streets
to arrive at work on time, all climaxed by Harold's incredible
building-climbing climax." (Classics of the Silent Screen,
Citadel Press, 1959)
Robert E. Sherwood . . .
"Although 'Safety Last' was more mechanical than most
of Harold Lloyd's pictures, it was certainly a superb mechanism."
(The Best Moving Pictures of 1922-23, Small, Maynard and
Adam Reilly . . .
"The film is excellently constructed with a clear, strong
story line that moves the action along at a rapid pace, peppered
with a constant barrage of gags and humorous situations."
(Harold Lloyd: The King of Daredevil Comedy, Macmillan
Publishing Company, Inc., 1977)