Safety Last! with Live Piano Accompaniment at RNCM

Johnny James, Managing Editor
Image courtesy of Park Circus/Harold Lloyd

Safety Last! Silent Film with Live Piano Accompaniment at Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), Manchester 26 October 2018 Tickets from £15 — Book now

Up there with Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd is one of the most popular comedy stars of silent television. Naturally funny, he’s best known for his bespectacled ‘Glasses’ character – an average, success-seeking young man who is seemingly capable of conquering any obstacle thrown at him. Famed for his ‘thrill sequences’, Lloyd’s films often contain extended chase scenes in which he carries out daredevil physical feats. Lloyd’s most famous thrill sequence is found in his much-adored movie Safety Last! (1923), directed by Sam Taylor and Fred Newmeyer. As part of an outrageous plot to win $1000 dollars, the lead character finds himself dangling from a clock perched atop a skyscraper. This has since become one of the most enduring images, not only in silent film, but in all of cinema.

The story behind this scene is typical of Lloyd’s movies. Country boy promises girl that he’ll go to the big city, carve out a financially stable life for them both, and then send for her. In actual fact, the only job he can hold down is that of a lowly salesclerk. By sending his girlfriend lavish gifts he disguises his lack of success, however by doing so he also leads the girl into coming to the city in a bid to start their new life. Hilarity ensues as Lloyd’s character poses as the manager of the store, is exposed, and risks everything for a lump sum that might afford him the life that he and his girlfriend desire. His idea? Persuade his roommate, who is a construction worker and an excellent climber, to scale the building where he works, in a stunt that might just persuade his boss to give him $1000. What could possibly go wrong?

The original score for the movie was composed and conducted by Carl Davis, with orchestration by Nic Raine. In an acknowledgement of the magic that comes with live-scoring silent movies, though, this screening will feature an improvised live piano score by Darius Battiwalla. Born in Islington in 1966, Battiwalla learnt the piano by ear at a very early age. After attending The University of Leeds to study Music, he went on to complete postgraduate diplomas in Organ and Piano Accompaniment at the RNCM, where he won prizes on both instruments. We look forward to enjoying the extra dimension that Battiwalla’s improvisation brings to this wonderful film.

Safety Last! won’t be the only screening at RNCM that evening. The short film One Week (1920) will also be shown. Directed by Edward F Cline and Buster Keaton, and also starring Keaton, the film tells the story of a newly wedded couple attempting to erect a house with a farcical DIY build-a-home kit. All the while, though, they are unaware that their efforts are being sabotaged by a rival. The house looks askew, falls down, and there are a host of wild stunts along the way designed to make the audience chuckle. It’s an early Buster Keaton short which still has an enormous amount of charm all of these years later, and it makes a lovely companion piece for Safety Last!

Safety Last! Silent Film with Live Piano Accompaniment at Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), Manchester 26 October 2018 Tickets from £15 Book now

Where to go near Safety Last! with Live Piano Accompaniment at RNCM

Manchester
Restaurant
San Carlo Fumo

San Carlo Fumo may be part of a chain, but it doesn’t feel like it. Right at the top of Oxford Road, it’s lavishly decorated and specialises in cicchetti, or Italian small plates.

Utility Gift Shop
Manchester
Shop
Utility Gift Shop

Utility Gift Shop on Oxford Road is all about products that are new, unique, quirky and cool. High street shopping at its best.

exterior of Contact Theatre building
Manchester
Theatre
Contact Theatre

Following a major redevelopment, the iconic venue on Oxford Road will be reopening its doors to welcome the public back into the building this autumn. 

The Salutation pub in Manchester
Manchester
Bar or Pub
The Salutation

This traditional boozer, surrounded by imposing flats and university buildings, was taken over by Trof (of the Deaf Institute fame). The Sally, as the regulars call it, hosts an energetic, arty crowd – and its recently expanded outside area is another good reason to visit.

Manchester
University
MMU Student Union

Manchester Metropolitan University Students’ Union building houses a bar and various other facilities for students and staff.

Manchester
Music venue
The Deaf Institute

The Deaf Institute is a vibrant gig venue and nightclub for which it is well worth taking a jaunt out of the Northern Quarter.

What's on: Music

Until
MusicManchester
Open Deck at Band on the Wall

Bring your records for a spin at our Open Deck session this Saturday! If you’ve bought some new vinyl from a local record shop this week, just show your receipt at the bar to get yourself a free 9” pizza!

Refract Festival 2024 at Waterside
Until
FestivalsSale
Refract 24 at Waterside

Back for 2024, Trafford’s flagship arts festival returns to Waterside for six days of experiential performance and cultural delight.

the artist
MusicManchester
Waxahatchee at New Century

Mercurial singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield AKA Waxahatchee performs at New Century in support of her new album, Tigers Blood.

from £29
Festivo Winds
MusicManchester
Festivo Winds at Low Four

One of the UK’s most exciting young wind quintet’s brings an eclectic programme to Low Four studios.

from £5.00

Culture Guides

Rebecca Watson author photo
Literature Events in Manchester and the North

In between working out, then working through, your holiday reading pile this summer, find inspiration for your next bookish acquisitions from our selection of live events and exhibitions.