Criterion Year Week 59: Safety Last

The Criterion Collection, the last vestige of truly collectible DVD and Blu-Ray movies in existence. These are well produced, fancy pants editions of important and interesting films for the discerning film lover.

We continue our journey through Jim's collection of movies with...

Safety Last

Spine Number: 662

Director: Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor

Genre: Comedy


The history of film is littered with iconic images, as one would imagine. I mean, it's an industry of visual artists, so you are bound to get some pictures that stand out. Rocky on the top of the steps, E.T. flying across the moon, Simba being held up to introduce him to the pride, Gene Kelly spinning on a lamppost during a downpour all bring to mind these amazing movies and incredible scenes.

But are there any images that are iconic and recognizable, but that people, by and large, don't know the film that spawned them?

Yes, there are.

This week, we address one such case.



Harold Lloyd, often referred to as silent comedy's "third genuis," alongside Keaton and Chaplin, made "Safety Last," in 1923 and, even if you don't know the movie, you know the image. Lloyd was unrealistically successful in his day. His movies were immensely popular, and he was insanely rich. How rich? His home, Greenacers, cost two million dollars. In the 20's. Adjusted for inflation, that's over $200,000,000. When he died, the 16 acers it was located on were broken down into 14 large lots for other mansions. That's right, his home had enough land for 16 other massive homes.

Oh, and when he wasn't making movies, he was one of the founders of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. You know, the people who give out the Oscars.

So, while Keaton and Chaplin might be more immediately recognizable, Lloyd holds the title as the most successful. Unless on of those guys started an organization that gives out an award that redefines a person's career, and we just don't know about it.

So, why was he not as well known? Well, because unlike Keaton and Chaplin he was able to maintain ownership of his films. So, while the other two saw their work reproduced over and over again, some lapsing into public domain, the rest just being treated as another property owned by companies that just churn stuff out, Lloyd had complete control over his releases. Ever single one was an official release. So, while the other guys saw their films treated as properties, Lloyd's work was carefully preserved and curated.

Why is that important? Firstly because it allowed for these films to be immacuately maintained. The prints are STUNNING. Second, it made his work more of an insider thing. If you weren't a film fan to begin with, you were probably completely unaware of his work.

This brings us to Safety Last. Honestly, this is one of the funniest and most thrilling movies ever made. It's a simple story about a boy trying to impress a girl, but man... the gags and stunts are so outstanding that it elevates the entire thing to a different level.

So, check out this classic piece of American cinema, then sit back and listen to us. Honestly, it's a great way to spend your day.



Next week,  

 Spine number 666: The Devil's Backbone

 Also, check this out.

The Life Masters is now it's own show with its own site and own dedicated feed. That's right, we have two completely different shows! 

Right now check it out at

You can also drink in our brilliance on Youtube for both The Film Thugs and The Life Masters.

Looks like Summer Movie League has officially become Fantasy Movie League.

It looks quite fun. Here's how it works.

You have an 8 screen theater.

Every week you pick movies and have a budget/salary cap you have to stay under.

Then you compete against other theaters in your league.

It's fantasy football for movie people.

Our league is Film Thugs 2015 and the password is Porterhouse.

And remember, you can be a part of the show any time you wild like. How's that? All you have to do is call or e-mail us. If you live in the US, or any place that makes calling the US easy, just dial 512-666-RANT and leave us a voicemail. We will read the Google Voice transcript and play your message. It's both funny AND informative.

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E-mail us at and we will read/play whatever you send us, or you can e-mail to be part of  an upcoming "Ask the Film Thugs" show, where we answer questions on any subject without having heard them first.

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Also, be sure to check back often for our new endeavor The Life Masters, where we answer questions to other advice columnists.

Thanks for listening, and until next week...

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