The silent flick, Safety Last! (1923), begins with a scene suggesting that Harold Lloyd (as The Boy) is in a prison cell waiting to be hanged for an unknown crime, but, no, it’s just a sight gag. Harold is simply at a railroad station. Yet an approaching hanging, if it were real, would be just one more scrape the amiable but aggressively fighting comic figure would have to survive.
All the nerd wants to do is raise enough money in the big city to marry The Girl (Mildred Davis), for there is prosperity in the big city. Yes, but there’s poverty as well—it exists for Harold and his roommate. The demands of money-making tasks keep Lloyd in mad tumult. Even a skyscraper must be conquered.
Comedic movies of the 1930s were good because they were interesting. Comedic movies of the 1920s were good because they were funny. (Those of the 1930s [e.g. Duck Soup] could be funny too.) And the physical comedians were delightfully talented. Safety Last! was written by Hal Roach and a couple of others, with Lloyd as an uncredited writer. Lloyd did not direct it. Mainly he was the great actor, a perfect linchpin performer. Incidentally, I now wish to see some 1930s Harold Lloyd films.