Safety Last! At The Abbeydale Picture House
The Abbeydale Picture House opened its doors once more on Saturday 26th March for a special screening of Safety Last!, Harold Lloyd’s 1923 silent classic. The sell-out event was part of the Picture House Revival project, which aims to restore the grand cinema to its former glory.
The newly renovated café, situated at the rear of the auditorium, was serving locally roast coffee alongside beer and snacks. The café will now be open every Friday and Saturday, serving hot and cold drinks, sandwiches and snacks within the charming worn setting.
Safety Last! was preceded by two Buster Keaton shorts, One Week and the Goat, which were both enormously entertaining. The film follows the trials and tribulations of Harold Lloyd’s ‘Boy’, who moves to the big city to earn his fortune, remaining determined to impress his sweetheart back home despite struggling to make ends meet. In the end, the Boy gets roped into performing a death defying stunt, the source of the famous image of Lloyd hanging from a clock. Pianist Darius Battiwalla cited Safety Last! as an early example of film as big business. The scale of the production is certainly impressive, with dozens of extras and stunts performed on a grand scale, some of the shots defy belief.
Battiwalla’s live score, in addition to the grand surroundings, brought out the very best of each film, drawing laughs and gasps from the audience. The energy of the films, and the way in which the remarkable venue aided it, was a reminder of just how vital venues like the Abbeydale Picture House are to the presentation of film and the preservation of its traditions.
Overall it was a wonderful event, and as the Picture House Revival project continues to restore and improve the facilities of the old venue, its charms will be revealed to a new generation of film fans in Sheffield.