Harold Lloyd was dubbed ‘the third genius’ by the silent film historian, Kevin Brownlow, and his films did better business than those of Chaplin and Keaton in the 1920s. Here Lloyd’s remarkable talents are displayed to the full. He performed many of the stunts himself, and this film displays one of the most famous silent movie scenes, as Lloyd hangs precariously from the city clock. No Health and Safety here!! (Cert U)
Dirs: Fred C Newmayer and Sam Taylor 73 mins USA 1923


(Cert U) 24 mins USA 1921

This is our annual silent film presentation, accompanied live on piano, as for more than 25 years, by Andrew Youdell. This screening will begin at 7.30 p.m. and take place at St Nicolas Church, Market Place, Abingdon.

Programme Notes


Thursday, 19th March 2009 at Saint Nicolas Church, Abingdon

SAFETY LAST, USA 1923, 73 mins (Cert. U)

also showing: NEVER WEAKEN, USA,1921, 24 mins (Cert.U)

“I just remember the sheer hard work – I go to screenings and I’m the only person not laughing”, Harold Lloyd speaking to Andrew Youdell.

Harold Lloyd (1893 – 1971) made many short films and features – many more than Chaplin in fact – and though none of them did quite as well as Chaplin’s films at the box office, he ended up much the richer man because of the greater amount of product. So Harold Lloyd is Tescos, while Chaplin and Buster Keaton are Waitrose? Not really. Kevin Brownlow, who would have invented silent cinema if he hadn’t re-discovered it, labelled Lloyd “The Third Genius”.

Two or three decades ago tonight’s feature was shown on television from time to time, but on occasion just the famous second half of the film was shown. And it didn’t really work, despite all the phenomenal stunts being present and correct. The reason was that Lloyd establishes a character in the first half and that character’s personality is an important part of our enjoyment later on, as we clutch our seats. The great silent era producer Hal Roach, an early collaborator, urged us not to let the stunts distract us from Lloyd’s acting ability.

We hope you’ll agree the film is still very fresh. “It is like going to new movies that happen to have been made 80 years ago”, wrote Roger Ebert in the Chicago-Sun Times.

Incidentally, you may like to bear in mind that Lloyd lost the thumb and index finger of his right hand a few years before making Safety Last.

Our pianist this evening is Andrew Youdell, who has accompanied our annual silent classic every year since 1980. He regularly accompanies films at the National Film Theatre and works at the British Film Institute. He is a true friend to ABCD Film Society.

Acting credits (Safety Last):
The Boy – Harold Lloyd
The Girl – Mildred Davis
The Floorwalker – Westcott Clarke
The Pal – Bill Strother

Production credits (Safety Last):
Directed by Fred C Newmeyer and Sam Taylor
Written by Sam Taylor, Hal Roach and Harold Lloyd (uncredited)

Credits for Never Weaken are the same, with the addition of Roy Brooks as The Other Man.




“All fantastic”

“The highlight of the year!”

“Funniest thing I have seen in ages!”

“Just amazing! What a good laugh.”

“Judging by the laughter, everyone enjoyed it. Overheard from behind ‘My god, I can’t stand it!’ ”

“What an experience!”

“I’m exhausted!”

“I’m glad I don’t have a heart problem !!!”

“A lot to laugh at and great piano! Once a year and always a pleasure.”

“Excellent piano (accompaniment)”

“An A for the pianist”

“Enjoyed this. Very skilled timing and just as funny after 80 years! Well done to the pianist!”

“I’d forgotten how good these are!”

“I believe the hard work! Great.”

“Not quite as good as Buster Keaton at his best but still very good.”

“Very silly and such hard seats!”


A:50, B:9, C:0, D:0, E:0 to give 96%