Safety Last (image 1)

...the higher and more horrifying it gets, the funnier it gets.

James Agee

Screened as part of NZIFF 2008

Safety Last 1923

Directed by Fred Newmeyer, Sam Taylor

In association with the Harold Lloyd Estate, the Festival is delighted to present a Live Cinema screening of one of the classic comedies of the silent era, accompanied on the piano by Tim Dodd.

USA In English
73 minutes 35mm

Production Co

Hal Roach Studios


Hal Roach


Harold Lloyd
Hal Roach
Sam Taylor
Tim Whelan


Walter Lundin


Fred Guiol


Harold Lloyd
Mildred Davis
Bill Strothers
Noah Young
Westcott B. Clarke
Mickey Daniels
Anna Townsend


Harold Lloyd was silent comedy's daredevil, cannily disguised as the average guy. He was the most successful comedian of the silent era, more popular than Buster Keaton and in more films than Charlie Chaplin. Though he made a pair of horn-rimmed spectacles his trademark, he was as physically daring a movie actor as ever lived. With these glasses and a straw boater, he epitomised the cleancut American city kid of the 20s, eager to do good and do well. Lloyd's character not only survives against surprising odds but triumphs through unassuming pluck and guts. As an actor, Lloyd gave his characters credibility through disarmingly natural performances. More than that, he knew exactly how to get the best from a gag and how then to top it with one even funnier. To quote film critic James Agee his work is “simply and consistently more hilarious than the work of any contemporary other than Keaton.”

More than any other picture, Safety Last earned him the title “The King of Daredevil Comedy”. Even audiences unfamiliar with Lloyd's work have usually seen a clip or a still from the climax of this film. And, although only a handful of Lloyd's productions relied on “high and dizzy” exploits for effect, Lloyd is most commonly remembered for climbing buildings. The pace, development of the story and meticulous construction of Safety Last make it a beautifully executed example of the best of silent screen comedy. They also make it a wonderful challenge to any musical accompanist. We’re delighted to welcome one of the best we know, Dunedin-born pianist Tim Dodd, back to the Regent, to remind us in the best way possible that the ‘silent’ era was never actually silent at all. — BG

“In Safety Last, as a rank amateur, (Lloyd) is forced to substitute for a human fly and to climb a medium sized skyscraper. Dozens of awful things happen to him... A good deal of this full-length picture hangs thus by its eyelashes along the face of a building. Each new floor is like a stanza in a poem; and the higher and more horrifying it gets, the funnier it gets.” — James Agee

“The most famous image of silent comedy - Harold Lloyd hanging from the hands of a clock, 12 stories above the streets of Los Angeles - represents only one of the great moments in what could be the most brilliantly sustained comic climax in film history (1923). A marvel, and there's more in the fine character work that leads Lloyd up to the big moment. The other great silent comics defined their own worlds; Lloyd lives dangerously in ours.” — Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

Tim Dodd was born, raised and (largely) educated in Dunedin. He studied piano with Rona Thompson, Richard Mapp and Terence Dennis and composition with Jack Speirs. He is a Producer with Radio New Zealand Concert, sings with the Jubilation Gospel Choir and lives with his family in Auckland.