Past Event31 Jul 2016

Safety Last!

No longer available

The Civic


Laugh-out-loud funny and jaw-dropping in equal measure, Safety Last! is a movie experience par excellence, anchored by a genuine legend.

Harold Lloyd was silent comedy’s daredevil, cannily disguised as an average guy. In the 20s he was more popular than Buster Keaton and in more films than Charlie Chaplin. Though he made a pair of horn-rimmed glasses and a nerdy squint his trademark, he was as physically agile and as daring a movie actor as ever lived. In this most famous of his films he’s a country boy determined to get ahead in the big smoke. Sending letters to his girl back home overstating his progress, to put it mildly, he’s cornered into daredevil mode when she pays a surprise visit, and must scale a 12-storey building.

Amongst the silent comedians, Lloyd was the most resolutely modern, or at least grappled the most resolutely with the modern world. Safety Last!, with its department store setting and skyscraper-climbing antics, is as up-to-date a dispatch from 1923 as you will ever find, its zeitgeist jazzily accentuated by Carl Davis’ score. The great care that Lloyd, and now his granddaughter Suzanne, have always taken with his film legacy help accentuate that freshness even further: in its recently created digital form, the film looks as good as new.

Marc Taddei conducts the scores for both films. A popular guest conductor throughout Australasia, Marc is currently Music Director of Orchestra Wellington and the Vallejo Symphony in California. His many Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra Live Cinema engagements have included an exhilarating The Wind in 2006, an eerily romantic Nosferatu in 2011 and Carl Davis’ orchestration of Chaplin’s score for The Kid last year.

Music for silent films has been an enduring strand of the prolific Carl Davis’ activities. His 1980 score for Abel Gance’s Napoleon triggered an extraordinary revival of interest in silent film, and his oeuvre of more than 50 scores for this medium, including Flesh and the Devil, Ben-Hur, The Thief of Baghdad, Greed, Intolerance and The General, has brought him international acclaim.

Safety Last!

USA 1923 
67 mins

Directors: Fred C. Newmeyer, Sam Taylor

Screenplay: Hal Roach, Sam Taylor, Tim Whelan, Harold Lloyd

Photography: Walter Lundin

Editor: T.J. Crizer

With: Harold Lloyd (the boy), Mildred Davis (the girl), Bill Strother (the pal), Noah Young (the law), Westcott B. Clarke (the floorwalker)

An Eastern Westerner

In Hal Roach’s gag-filled An Eastern Westerner (the only 35mm film print on this year’s programme), Lloyd plays the pampered son of New York privilege sent to the Wild West to shape up. There’s one gag so nifty it’s repeated in Safety Last! three years later. Mildred Davis, who plays opposite Lloyd in both films, married him in 1923 and retired, at hubby’s behest, from the screen. 

An Eastern Westerner

USA 1920
23 mins

Director: Hal Roach

Screenplay: Frank Terry, H.M. Walker

Photography: Walter Lundin

With: Harold Lloyd (the boy), Mildred Davis (the girl), Noah Young (the bully)

For tickets and details about films at other venues, please visit the New Zealand International Film Festival website.

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