The Nearly Last Safety Last! Joke

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John Bengtson
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The Nearly Last Safety Last! Joke

Postby John Bengtson » Sat Oct 12, 2019 5:46 pm

Harold Lloyd employed 17 downtown buildings for his “thrill” stunt climbing movies – 14 survive. The final discovery, the concluding joke of Safety Last! with Noah Young still chasing after Bill Strother, was filmed looking down at them along 2nd and Main from the extant 10-story Higgins Building.



Above - here's the full post where you can read more

Complete List of Harold Lloyd Stunt Climbing Buildings (updated 2019)

After first shooting stunt climbing comedies above the Hill Street Tunnel, Lloyd branched out to film from real buildings. What should be included within the list of his stunt climbing buildings is a bit subjective.

It all began with Ask Father (1919), where Harold himself climbed the first two and a half stories of the former International Bank Building (1904‐1954) at 116 Temple Street. I’ll count it later for its appearance in Safety Last!

Lloyd filmed Look Out Below (1919) and High and Dizzy (1919) using sets overlooking the now-demolished Hill Street Tunnel. The High and Dizzy set replicated the façade of the Citizens National Bank Building at 5th and Spring, and a brief shot in the movie shows a stunt‐person sleepwalking on the ledge of this building. A dizzying point of view shot was filmed from the bank looking down on the corner clock of the Security and Trust Savings Bank at the SE corner of 5th and Spring across the street. The banks have been stripped of their ground floor ornamentation, but both are still standing. That makes one or two surviving buildings.

Harold filmed Never Weaken (1921) from a set built atop the Ville de Paris Department Store, at 7th and Olive. He also filmed the jazz party scene for that picture on the roof of Hamburgers Department Store at 8th and Broadway, a vertigo-inducing shot also looking down at corner clock of the Security Trust and Savings Bank, and an establishing shot from the Loews State Theater Building, at 7th and Broadway, that was under construction at the time. That makes either one or four buildings, all still surviving.

Lloyd filmed the primary climbing sequences for Safety Last! (1923) from sets built atop three buildings; (i) the initial set atop the former two story Los Angeles Investment Co. Building (the only building of the three that does not survive) at 10th (Olympic) and Broadway, (ii) the clock set atop the eight story 908 S. Broadway Building, and (iii) the finale set atop the Merchants National Bank Building at the NE corner of 5th and Spring. Lloyd filmed another scene with Mildred Davis for the finale atop the Washington Building at 3rd and Spring, and the introductory shot of Bill Strother sitting on a construction girder atop the Fifth Street Department Store, at 5th and Broadway, that was being renovated at the time. Aside from these rooftop shots, Lloyd filmed Bill Strother climbing both the Dresden Apartments, at 1919 W. 7th, and the former International Bank Building, mentioned above. For a closing joke Noah Young chased Strother on the roofs of two-story buildings at the NW corner of Main and 2nd (now lost) filmed looking down from the extant ten-story Higgins Building at the SW corner. That makes for nine buildings total in Safety Last!, six of which survive.

Lloyd filmed the primary climbing sequences for Feet First (1930) from sets built atop three buildings; (i) the same two story building at 10th and Broadway that did not survive, (ii) the seven story Southern California Gas Building at 950 S. Broadway, and (iii) the Great Republic Life Insurance Building at 8th and Spring. Lloyd filmed establishing shots of stuntman Harvey Parry hanging from a painter’s scaffold beside the Ninth and Broadway Building. That makes three additional buildings not used in Safety Last!, all three of which survive.

So that leaves a grand tally of seventeen buildings employed in one manner or another, fourteen of which survive.

© 2019 John Bengtson

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