Keeping an eye on the clock

Criterion Collection

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It’s a little disheartening that the Blu-ray debut of the silent-comedy classic “Safety Last!” (1923) includes a vintage TV documentary entitled “Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius.” Watching some of Lloyd’s more inspired bits, you’d think he’d be as remembered as Chaplin and Keaton, and not just a runner-up. (Is Lloyd’s high-rise stunt of dangling from a building-façade clock as recognizable as the Little Tramp’s mustache? It’s a discussion point, anyway.) Maybe it’s that Lloyd’s comic sensibility didn’t have quite the same episodic propulsiveness as Chaplin’s. For all its lively, creatively staged moments, that ascent to the clock does take a while.

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