Monday, September 8, 2008

Speedy (Ted Wilde) ****

Director: Ted Wilde

Cast: Harold Lloyd, Ann Christy, Bert Woodruff, Babe Ruth

Background: Harold Lloyd was at the height of his popularity at this point. His most recent films The Freshman and The Kid Brother had performed very well at the box office. After making several films with Jobyna Ralston as his leading lady, Harold cast little known actress Ann Christy for the lead in Speedy. Ted Wilde had not only directed Harold the previous year in The Kid Brother, but he also helped write several of his biggest hits, including Girl Shy and The Freshman.

Story: We are introduced to Harold "Speedy" Swift, an average guy trying to keep his job as a soda jerk while catching the score of the latest Yankees game. His girlfriend's father runs the last horse drawn trolley in the city, and Harold is determined to help him keep it against the pressure of the big business interests.

Thoughts: Speedy is a wonferful film filled with a lovely, infectious spirit. Safety Last! is often considered to be Harold Lloyd's masterpiece (and rightfully so), but this is right behind that one. The romance here is sweeter and more interesting than in many other silent comedies, where it is usually just a backdrop for the silly situations. There's a hilarious trip to Coney Island that is not only a great time capsule moment, but it also contains one of my favorite movie moments since starting this project. After inadvertently causing trouble, Harold and his girlfriend have to use all their money to pay a vendor for damages and are flat broke without a ride home. They eventually get a ride in the back of a moving truck, where they arrange the furniture within and imagine what their lives will be like when they get married. It's such a sweet, sentimental moment that definitely gets you on Harold's side and sets up the fast paced (the film definitely has an appropriate title) third act very well. This film also features a hilarious cameo by none other than Babe Ruth.

Postscript: This would be the last silent comedy that Harold Lloyd would release. His next film Welcome Danger was actually filmed as a silent, but later edited to be a sound film. Lloyd found some success in the sound era, but it was mostly mixed and he would be done by the end of the 30s. Harold returned in the 40s to work with Preston Sturges on one last film before giving it up for good.

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