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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Safety Last! [Blu-ray]

 

(Fred C. Newmeyer, Sam Taylor, 1923)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Hal Roach Studios

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #662

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:13:52.694

Disc Size: 45,556,681,348 bytes

Feature Size: 19,579,545,600 bytes

Video Bitrate: 28.84 Mbps

Chapters: 14

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: June 18th, 2013

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.37:1

Resolution: 1080i / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

• Musical score by composer Carl Davis from 1989, synchronized and restored under his supervision and presented in uncompressed stereo
Alternate score by organist Gaylord Carter from the late 1960s, presented in uncompressed monaural
Audio commentary featuring film critic Leonard Maltin and director and Harold Lloyd archivist Richard Correll
Introduction by Suzanne Lloyd, Lloyd’s granddaughter and president of Harold Lloyd Entertainment (17:21)
Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius, a 104-minute documentary from 1989 (1:48:00)
Three newly restored Lloyd shorts: Take a Chance (1918 - 10:21), Young Mr. Jazz (1919 - 9:50), and His Royal Slyness (1920 - 21:39), with commentary by Correll and film writer John Bengtson
Locations and Effects, a new documentary featuring Bengtson and special effects expert Craig Barron (20:37)
New interview with Davis (24:08)
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Ed Park

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: The comic genius of silent star Harold Lloyd is eternal. Chaplin is the sweet innocent, Keaton the stoic outsider, but Lloyd—the modern guy striving for success—is us. And with its torrent of perfectly executed gags and astonishing stunts, Safety Last! is the perfect introduction to him. Lloyd plays a small-town bumpkin trying to make it in the big city, who finds employment as a lowly department-store clerk. He comes up with a wild publicity stunt to draw attention to the store, resulting in an incredible feat of derring-do on his part that gets him started on the climb to success. Laugh-out-loud funny and jaw-dropping in equal measure, Safety Last! is a movie experience par excellence, anchored by a genuine legend.

 

 

The Film:

After Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, the silent film era's "third genius" was Harold Lloyd, who stars in this Horatio Alger-style story of an average country boy trying to make good in the big city. The Boy (Lloyd) leaves his sweetheart, The Girl (Mildred Davis, later the real-life Mrs. Lloyd) in Great Bend while he pursues his fortune in a teeming metropolis. The Boy lands a job as a clerk at a fabric counter of DeVore's, a huge department store, but he lies in his letters home to his beloved, pretending to be the store's manager and spending his earnings on lavish gifts. The Boy's roommate, The Pal (Bill Strother) makes money as a "human fly," performing attention-getting stunts. Promised $1,000 by DeVore's real manager if he can devise a publicity gimmick, The Boy convinces his friend to climb the 12-story establishment and split the winnings with him. On the day of the event, however, The Pal is busy dodging The Law (Noah Young), forcing The Boy to make the arduous climb solo. Dodging a variety of obstacles, The Boy climbs higher and higher, eventually dangling from the store's clock tower, in the film's most memorable image.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

One of the best of Lloyd's thrill-comedies, developing the precarious perch-clinging scenes in earlier shorts like High and Dizzy and the stunning Never Weaken. If he steered clear of the cloying sentimentality that characterised Chaplin and Langdon, Lloyd nevertheless lacked the narrative and visual ambitions that made Keaton a truly great director/comedian. That said, the clock-hanging climax that caps this generally charming tale of a country boy out to make his fortune in the big city - having suggested a high-rise climb as a publicity stunt for the store where he is employed, he finds himself forced to substitute when the real 'human fly' proves otherwise engaged - is a superb example of his ability to mix suspense and slapstick.

Excerpt from Timeout Film Guide located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Goodness - what an improvement this new Criterion Blu-ray is over the SD transfer in The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection DVD set (sample below). It's incredible! Now the Criterion is 1080i - which I can only assume has something to do with the silent frame rate. Contrast, Criterion's hallmark, shines brightly exporting wonderful detail and even some impressive depth. Grain is consistent and textured. Damage still exists but it is almost invisible by the digital restoration. The disc is dual-layered (due to the extensive extras) and the bitrate for the feature is high.  It is in the 1.37:1 aspect ratio and this image, even with the interlacing (1080i) - which is fairly imperceptible in-motion - is way beyond my expectations. This Blu-ray and City Girl are demo material for the Silent Era.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection (Reviewed HERE) - NTSC - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

There are two audio options - both in linear PCM. You can have the 2.0 channel score by composer Carl Davis at 2304 kbps from 1989, synchronized and restored under his supervision and presented in uncompressed stereo or an alternate score by organist Gaylord Carter from the late 1960s, at 1152 kbps. I tested both but stuck with the more robust Davis score. Both sounded crisp with a appropriately tinnier high-end. Sweet and authentic. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.

 

Extras :

Included is the audio commentary featuring film critic Leonard Maltin and director and Harold Lloyd archivist Richard Correll from the 2005 New Line Home Entertainment DVD (Reviewed HERE). We also get a 17-minute introduction by Suzanne Lloyd, Lloyd’s granddaughter and president of Harold Lloyd Entertainment. Here she discusses Safety Last! and its place in Lloyd's career. Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius, is an excellent 104-minute documentary from American Masters TV series - made in 1989. Kevin Brownlow and David Gill wrote and produced this acclaimed 2-part documentary on the career, life and legacy of Harold Lloyd. Narrated by Lindsay Anderson, it features numerous interviews with Lloyd's family, friends and colleagues. We get three newly restored Lloyd shorts: Take a Chance (1918 - 10:21,) Young Mr. Jazz (1919 - 9:50,) and His Royal Slyness (1920 - 21:39), with commentary by Correll and film writer John Bengtson. Locations and Effects, is a new 20-minute documentary featuring Bengtson and special effects expert Craig Barron who discusses Lloyd's innovative use of stunts, locations and effects in his "thrill pictures". Lastly there is a new 25-minute interview with Carl Davis who talks about his music for Safety Last! and other Harold Lloyd titles, as well as his a career scoring both silent and sound films. In the package is a liner notes booklet featuring an essay by critic Ed Park.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Magnificent. I love Harold Lloyd and always enjoy Safety Last! Brilliant stuff. The Criterion Blu-ray package looks and sounds fabulous and is stuffed with great supplements. All through my viewing I was astounded by the impressive image - then tucking into the extras this is really a must-own package. I can only imagine owning all Lloyd's films in this resolution. Wow. Highly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

May 27th, 2013

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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