Dallas VideoFest Celebrates Silent Movie Day Screening Comedy SAFETY LAST @ Texas Theatre

Written by Kelly Kitchens

Dallas VideoFest celebrates the 2nd annual National Silent Movie Day by screening the comedy classic SAFETY LAST (1923) starring Harold Lloyd at the Texas Theatre (231 Jefferson Blvd, Dallas) at 7 pm on Thursday, September 22.

Lloyd was a comedian who looked like a normal guy wearing horn-rimmed glasses. In this film, he tries to impress his girlfriend and his boss by staging a publicity stunt where a friend will climb up the side of a tall building to bring shoppers to his department store. The friend has a run-in with the police, so poor Harold has to climb the building instead!  It is a comedy filled with thrills and laughs.  The film also stars Mildred Davis, who married Lloyd in real life a few months later.


In addition to the feature, the Texas Theatre will also be screening the short comedy YOUNG MR. JAZZ (1919) also stars Harold Lloyd.  Before producing and starring in feature comedies, Lloyd learned his comedy craft in over a hundred short comedies that were released almost once a week. In this film, the father of Lloyd’s girlfriend (played by Bebe Daniels) forbids her to see The Boy again. She sneaks out of the house, but her angry father is in hot pursuit. The Boy and his girl slip into a Jazz club, but the clientele there is quite rough. When the father shows up, there is no place to hide – or is there?


“When many people think about silent film comedy, they first think about Charlie Chaplin and then Buster Keaton. Both were brilliant and popular. But the singular image representing the silent comedy universe is from the SAFETY LAST with Harold Lloyd,” said Bart Weiss, founder and artistic director of Dallas VideoFest.  “At the time, he was extremely popular, and we get the opportunity to see why in the showing of this very classic film. Here is how and where it did the shot with the clock on the outside of the building:


Silent films were never shown completely silent.  Usually, live music was provided to accompany the film. The music would be provided live by a pianist, an organist, an ensemble, or even a full symphony orchestra. For SAFETY LAST, the Texas will use a recorded score written and conducted by Carl Davis and his orchestra.


September 29th will be the second annual Silent Movie Day.  Last year, it was started as “National Silent Movie Day,” and it has now gone international. Three archivists started the movement: Brandee Cox of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Chad Hunter of the Pittsburgh Silent Film Society and Stephen K. Hill of the UCLA Film and Television Archive.


“Silent films usually get ignored when movie buffs talk about classic films so this day is an event to promote live screenings of classic silent movies worldwide,” said Bruce Calvert, DFW silent film historian and archivist.

“The popular misconception about silent movies is that they were jerky and moved too fast, and the photography was poor. None of that was actually true. In the 1950s and 1960s, silent films were shown on television at the wrong speed using scratched-up prints. While many silent movies do survive in poor prints, they didn’t look that way when first shown a hundred years ago. And unfortunately, about 80% of silent movies are lost, possibly forever, as the studios did not see any reason to preserve them after they had been released and rereleased to theaters,” Calvert concluded.


In addition to silent movie screenings worldwide on September 29th, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will be showing silent movies all da on that cable channel.

“Silents, Please” is an overview of Silent Films that would be great to share with your audience:

A very special thank you, Bruce Calvert, for bringing this idea and the film to Dallas VideoFest and Texas Theatre’s audiences.

About the author

Kelly Kitchens

Kelly J Kitchens (Wickersham), film publicist

As an editor and feature writer, Kelly J. Kitchens found herself engrossed in North Texas’ arts, entertainment, leisure/hospitality and fund-raising events scene in the early and mid-'90s where she was a feature writer, critic and editor for a weekly arts and entertainment magazine in Dallas called The Met. Her love of film, music, art, theater and worthy causes drove her to then pursue the publicity side of the media business in 1995. Kelly has been honored by being named a “master publicist” in the Fort Worth Business Press and an “ace media maven” in The Dallas Morning News.

For more than 25 years, Kelly has had her hand in much of the Dallas film world. For instance, she publicized Angelika Film Centers openings in Dallas and Plano and the revitalization of Houston’s Angelika. She is the director of press and publicity for several area film festivals and independent films playing at other film festivals. And in 2022, she plans to return to be the publicist for Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas in DFW.

During the pandemic, Kelly wasn’t sure where her career would take her. Fortunately, she was able to help save Thin Line Film Festival, Dallas VideoFest's DocuFest and AltFiction Fest, Pegasus Film Festival, among other film festivals as they turned to go virtual instead of canceling.

As the world emerges from the pandemic, Kelly is working on publicity for Pegasus Media Project, Who Needs Sleep Telethon, as well as several films making their ways into the festival circuit and an Amazon series nominated for a Daytime Emmy, #WASHED.

One of Kelly’s specialties is her Media Roundtables. RTs are modified press conferences that turn into conversations and virtual film schools with filmmakers, festival directors and anyone else she happens to be working with at the time. Get a feel for these media roundtables at this YouTube playlist: