Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Speedy (1928)

Now, for some rather timely fun, we’ve got Harold Lloyd’s 1928 silent comedy Speedy!

Harold “Speedy” Swift (Harold Lloyd) is obsessed with baseball. So much so that he keeps getting in trouble at work, including his most recent job as a soda jerk. In spite of being fired from his job, he still decides to take his girlfriend, Jane Dillon (Ann Christy), to the Coney Island amusement park. After a long day of fun (and spending all his money), the two of them catch a ride home on a friend’s moving truck. On the way, Harold proposes marriage, but Jane turns him down. She wants to marry him, but currently she is worried about her grandfather, Pop Dillon (Bert Woodruff). He currently owns (and runs) the last horse-drawn trolley in New York City, but a railroad magnate wants the route (although he is unwilling to meet Pop’s and, quite frankly, Harold’s asking price). The next day, Harold gets a job as a taxi driver, although he quickly gets a few tickets from the police. One of his fares turns out to be Yankee player Babe Ruth (as played by himself), who needs to get to the baseball stadium. After the cab ride, he invites Harold in to see the game. While there, Harold overhears the railroad magnate on the phone trying to hire a bunch of thugs to destroy Pop’s trolley (and injure him) the next day. Harold elects to take Pop’s place the next day, and, with the help of the neighborhood, fights them off. That night, though, the trolley is stolen, and, since Pop’s contract with the city requires him to make a run once every twenty-four hours, Harold must rush to find it before time runs out and Pop’s route is worthless!

The movie was shot on location in sites such as the old Penn Station, Yankee Stadium, and Coney Island’s Luna Park. Of course, due to Harold Lloyd’s popularity at the time, they had to hide the camera and secretly film their scenes at Coney Island to avoid attracting attention from adoring fans. Due to the location shooting, the costs were higher on this film than on his previous movie, The Kid Brother, yet the movie still proved to be a big hit. It also turned out to be Harold’s last silent movie, as the advent of sound had begun the year before with the success of The Jazz Singer, and while Harold took on talking pictures, he no longer enjoyed the success he had had with his silent comedies.

Like the other Harold Lloyd silent comedies that I’ve seen (besides The Kid Brother, I have two more reviewed that will be showing up within the year), I really enjoyed Speedy! There are many fun moments here, from the section at Coney Island, to the final last-ditch trolley run, to the fight just before it that is between the thugs and the American Civil War veterans in the neighborhood (and remember, this is set in the 1920s, so these guys aren’t exactly young, here). But, especially at this time of the year, with the baseball season coming to a close, the fun is all the baseball-related antics for most of the movie. Harold’s way of using donuts and pretzels in a display case to show the baseball score for some of his coworkers at the soda fountain is rather clever and amusing. But, obviously, Babe Ruth’s cameo as one of Harold’s cab fares is one of the film’s highlights. With Harold mainly paying attention to his passenger and ignoring the road, you can’t help but laugh while simultaneously sitting on the edge of your seat as he somehow manages to avoid crashing into traffic! While suicide itself is not a laughing matter, you can’t help but chuckle at Babe Ruth’s line of “If I ever want to commit suicide, I’ll call you” at the end of his cab ride. But, again, this is an enjoyable movie, one I don’t mind seeing any time of the year! This year, it’s more fun at this time if only to enjoy the baseball parts without the health risks for the actual players (not to mention seeing footage of Babe Ruth hit a home run from an actual game)! So, yes, I certainly recommend this one!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 26 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Kid Brother (1927) – Harold Lloyd

Coming Up Shorts! with… Bumping Into Broadway (1919)

(Available as an extra on the Speedy (1928) Blu-ray/DVD from Criterion Collection)

(Length: 25 minutes, 51 seconds)

As a struggling playwright, the Boy (Harold Lloyd) helps pay his neighbor’s rent, instead of his own. Later, he follows her to a speakeasy, and tries to help her when the place is raided by the police. A lot of different stuff happens here, but Harold Lloyd is hilarious in everything! I know I particularly get a kick out of watching him evade the police at the speakeasy! It’s certainly a fun short, and one I don’t mind seeing every now and then!

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