Movie Name: Speedy
Studio: Harold Lloyd
Release Date(s): December 15, 1928
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Pop Dillon (Bert Woodruff) drives the last horse drawn streetcar in New York City…and the tracks are coveted by the railroad department which hopes to take over all transportation. Pop’s only hope could be his granddaughter Jane (Ann Christy) and her boyfriend Harold “Speedy” Swift (Harold Lloyd). Baseball obsessed Speedy can’t seem to hold on to a job but when he learns that Pop’s being targeted by thugs trying to force him to miss out on the big sale, Speedy could find new purpose.
Directed by Ted Wilde, Speedy is a black-and-white silent film. The movie was the last of Lloyd’s silent films to be released in the theater and the last silent film of the director. The movie was nominated for Best Director—Comedy Picture which was only given at the first Academy Awards. A remastered version of Speedy was released by Criterion (Criterion #788).
Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last is a classic that has imagery seen all over. It is what Lloyd is most remembered for and even if you haven’t seen it, the imagery of Lloyd hanging off the clock is an image of Americana. With the popularity of the actor and this movie’s rather strange Oscar nomination, I decided to check it out…and really enjoyed it.
The story for Speedy is like a lot of silent films. There is an overall plot and it is decent, but most of the story is made up of gags that could be their own shorts. Be it working at the soda shop, driving a taxi (with Babe Ruth), going to Coney Island with the new suit or the crab in the pocket, Speedy is loaded with gags. The movie has a story but it seems to take a roundabout way to get there in the second half…with the skits built in.
Harold Lloyd has great timing and is a good comedic actor. Clean-cut with glasses and suit, Harold doesn’t seem like a comedy star of today (except for maybe Pee-wee Herman). He gives it all with not only physical gags, but he also is very expressive. This is a necessary conversation for emoting on the silent screen…and Lloyd was one of the best in that aspect.
Speedy has a great setting. The movie shuttles through much of New York City and seeing the ’20s version of the city is a lot of fun. In addition to the stylish shooting, the movie’s trip to Coney Island shows people in their suits and ties riding some of the most dangerous rides…showing how times have changed.
Speedy is a fun film. It showcases the best of silent movies and the best of comedies at this time. Harold Lloyd is a great physical actor, and Speedy was a good choice for his comedy. I realize that silent films aren’t for everyone but movies like Speedy shows a much more attainable film than many other silent movies. An interesting side note is that the movie contains one of the earliest (if not the earliest) middle finger salute on film by Lloyd in an Coney Island mirror…I guess we know what he thought of sensors. Check out Speedy and enjoy a silent classic.