Harold Lloyd has always been doomed to a reputation as that ’other’ icon of silent screen comedy. We all know Keaton and Chaplin, but time has forgotten Lloyd.
Criterion is going to try and remedy that, and they’re starting with "Safety Last." Notably referenced in the conclusion of 2011’s classic "Hugo," "Safety" -- and its hanging-onto-a-clock-by-the-arm set piece -- is the classic of Lloyd’s cinema, the stalwart, the masterpiece. The star features as a lowly clerk, trying to make it in the big city, thrown off his game at every turn. And we watch, beautifully, transcendently, as he gets thrown off everything else, too.
Criterion offers up "Safety" with a beautiful, grainy, filmic 2K transfer. But they also offer it up with one of their top-shelf collections of extras. They’re treating Lloyd like an ’A-list’ star, which is to say, like a Chaplin or a Keaton. You get two separate scores for this silent film; you get a commentary with Leonard Maltin; you get an introduction from Lloyd’s granddaughter; you get a nearly two-hour documentary on his life; you get three excellent, beautifully restored short Lloyd comedies from the late 1910s; and you even get a newly produced documentary on Lloyd’s inexplicably ahead-of-their-time special effects.
They weren’t the only part of Lloyd’s cinema ahead of its time. Rewatching "Last," the pacing truly astounds. Sprinting from set to set, never once slowing, we see that Lloyd was a true original. Like the booklet says: "Chaplin is the sweet innocent, Keaton the stoic outsider, but Lloyd -- the modern guy striving for success -- is us."