With a can of paint and a cooperative landlord, ladies tailor Jacob Epstein bought himself a bit of movie immortality. During the iconic skyscraper clock sequence in Harold Lloyd’s 1923 master thrill comedy Safety Last!, you can clearly see, visible in the background, Mr. Epstein touting his services as painted on the side of the extant building standing at 820 S. Broadway, where he practiced his trade from Room 600 on the 6th floor. Although his name is now obscured, nearly 90 years later you can still read the lettering “LADIES TAILOR” on the side of the building. Ironically, while his association with Broadway remains to this day, Mr. Epstein only worked there for a few years, and had already moved to a new shop on Hope Street nearby when the movie premiered.
Mr. Epstein also provides an interesting insight into Lloyd’s working methods. The sequence where Harold and Mildred Davis (the future Mrs. Lloyd) reunite following Harold’s climb of the building was filmed atop three different downtown buildings. As I explain in my book (pages 113 – 116), a unique reaction shot was filmed atop the Washington Building at 3rd and Spring, with the crest of the extant Million Dollar Theater standing the background, while the majority of the sequence was filmed atop the National Bank Building at 6th and Spring.
But thanks to Mr. Epstein’s sign appearing in the background, we know that part of the sequence was filmed atop 908 S. Broadway, where the famous clock sequence was also filmed.
In conjunction with the sold-out Los Angeles Conservancy “Last Remaining Seats” screening of Safety Last! on June 29 at the Orpheum Theatre, I have posted here a self-guided walking tour of the downtown Los Angeles locations Harold Lloyd used in Safety Last!, along with locations from Lloyd’s climbing stunts in Never Weaken (1921) and Feet First (1930), and behind the scenes images showing how Lloyd staged his famous skyscraper-climbing sequences.
HAROLD LLOYD images and the names of Mr. Lloyd’s films are all trademarks and/or service marks of Harold Lloyd Entertainment Inc. Images and movie frame images reproduced courtesy of The Harold Lloyd Trust and Harold Lloyd Entertainment Inc.