“Safety Last,” but Laughter First!

Safety Last, By Brian Aldaco

In the cinematic world, many have heard of famous silent film comedians such as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. A less-well known comedian–but equally great–is Harold Lloyd. The LEAP Ambassadors got their first exposure to this comedian’s works before hitting the road to Austin’s Texas Tribune Festival.

We had this wonderful opportunity thanks to Professor Grant Weidenfeld, who teaches in the Mass Communications department and also shows classic films in the Old Town Theater  a couple of times a semester.

We started the evening by joining Professor Weidenfeld in welcoming guests…

…and directing them to their seats. Once everyone was seated, we sat in anticipation while Professor Yawn offered an introduction to the film. Soon after, the projector started rolling, the screen glimmered with black and white, and an hour of continuous laughter roared through the theatre.

The scenes of great comedic accomplishment were appreciated by all guests.  Whether it was his double-punch gags (a gag, followed quickly by an extension of that gag), or the amazing stunts, Lloyd showed comedic brilliance.

Some of the stunts were truly dangerous.  Without the strict safety codes in today’s film making, the actors were doing things that put themselves in great jeopardy.  And, of course, no CGI was available at that time.  In other words, when you see Harold Lloyd hanging from a clock, that’s really Harold Lloyd hanging from a clock.


LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Safety Last, Harold Lloyd

After the last scene ended, we all had a chance to share our thoughts on the great comedy.

LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Safety Last, Grant Weidenfeld

For some of the guests, this was their first time viewing a silent film.  And even though we could have stayed in the theatre all night long talking about films, we decide to sadly take our leave and hit the road to Austin.

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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