Monday, 24 December 2012

Speedy


Speedy; silent comedy, USA, 1928; D: Ted Wilde, S: Harold Lloyd, Ann Christy, Bert Woodruff, Brooks Benedict, Babe Ruth

New York. Speedy is a rather careless lad who loses a job as soon as he finds one because he is more preoccupied with baseball than his chores. His girlfriend is Jane, whose dad, Mr. Dillon, is the last driver of a horse streetcar in the modern city. When a rich businessman wants to sabotage Mr. Dillon's streetcar in order to buy it off for the railroad, Speedy for the first time takes responsibility and saves him by finding the stolen streetcar, thereby forcing the businessman to pay Mr. Dillon his full price.

Even though it was nominated for an Oscar in the now defunct category of best director in a comedy (Ted Wilde), "Speedy" is not among Harold Lloyd's top achievements, but his style of comedy still manages to show what an underrated comedian he was, here in the rather untypical edition where he plays a rather unlikeable character at first, a one who does not care if he loses his job or not, until he passes through a test of maturity when he saves his girlfriend's dad's business from a greedy corporation. The jokes do not ignite all of the time, or with the same intensity, especially in the rather shaky Coney Island sequence, or the forced sequence where the hero cannot find a customer as a taxi driver, yet some of the best ones are truly charming (Harold subtly displaying the result of a baseball game - 0:1 - to his friends by placing one doughnut as a "zero" and another sideways, so that it looks like "one") and sometimes even downright hilarious (Harold rubbing soap on his dog's snout and then scaring away three thugs by saying it is a mad dog). A small jewel here is the brilliant Ann Christy, who gave an irresistibly sweet performance as wonderfully cheerful Jane before she unfortunately abandoned her career as an actress four years later. Among the curiosities is one of the first "cameo" appearances in cinema because baseball legend Babe Ruth has a small role as himself in a delicious little sequence where he is worried since Speedy is more preoccupied with talking to him than at driving the taxi cab while cars are dodging him on the streets ("Mr. Ruth, even when you miss, you miss it very close." - "I don't *miss* them by that close as you!").

Grade;++

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