Speedy Blu-ray Review

     Actors: Harold Lloyd, Babe Ruth
  • Director: Ted Wilde
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection (Direct)
  •  Release Date: December 8, 2015
  • Run Time: 85 minutes



             Borrowing the name given to his “Glasses Character” in one of his earlier classics, The Freshman, Harold Lloyd returned to this role for his final silent performance in Speedy (1928). As well as showcasing some of the best gags in his career, Speedy gave audiences a ticket to the fast-paced lifestyle of New York City. At the time it was a pleasantly comedic depiction of the chaotic hustle and bustle of ‘The Roaring 20s’ in Manhattan, though it now serves as a magnificent historical record for those too young to remember.


            Lloyd is often left in the shadows of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, though his glasses character has the type of optimistic ambition missing from his fellow silent comedy stars’ on-screen personas. Chaplin’s ‘Little Tramp’ is a bumbling mess who is often simultaneously helped and hindered by his strong sense of empathy for his fellow man, and Keaton’s deadpan reactions played to the humor in the absurdity of modern living, but Lloyd’s character was a depiction of the relatable struggles of an average ambitious young man. Perhaps this is what makes him such a suitable character for New York in the late 1920s; he gave hope by showing a positive attitude and determination may just be enough to win the girl and achieve greatness. We don’t need to see The Tramp succeed, because all that matters is that we care about him by the journey’s end. Speedy doesn’t ask us to care about Lloyd’s character as much as it invites the audience to relate to him in his endeavors.


            Speedy lives up to its name with the breakneck speed, clearly a film more about gags than plot. A majority of the situations setting up the films jokes involve public transportation, perfectly suited to show the urgency of the big city lifestyle. Lloyd’s title character is a good-natured everyday man whose biggest downfall is the eternal struggle between ambition and amusement. Though he aspires to become successful in his financial endeavors, keeping a job often interferes with his obsession with baseball. The ultimate moment of these askew priorities comes when he is given the opportunity to drive Babe Ruth to his game while working as a cab driver. After being offered the opportunity to see the game, Speedy unluckily finds himself seated directly behind his boss.


    America’s favorite pastime is not his only distraction, and even the news of another lost job is not enough to prevent Speedy from taking his girlfriend (played by Ann Christy) on an indulgent day trip to Coney Island, in a new suit destined to be comedically tarnished. Interestingly, although Speedy seems to represent the ambition of the modern man, he also becomes the savior for an older tradition of doing things. After losing his job driving a taxi, Speedy focuses on helping his girlfriend’s father keep the last of New York’s horse-drawn streetcars in business. This puts him in direct conflict with the conniving railroad men attempting to run the elderly man out of business, and leads to an assortment of gags amidst battles between old and new in an ever-changing modern city.


    The Blu-ray release for Speedy offers a new 4K digital restoration from the UCLA Film & Television Archive, featuring a musical score by composer Carl Davis from 1992, restored for this disc under his personal supervision. Special features on this disc include an optional feature-film commentary track with the director of repertory programming at New York’s Film Forum, Bruce Goldstein, and Turner Classic Movies director of program production, Scott McGee. There is a new short documentary about the film’s New York shoot locations and a new video essay about the film, paired with archival material that includes footage of Babe Ruth and selections from Harold Lloyd’s home movies from the period of his life that this film was made. Also included is an extra two-reel Harold Lloyd short film from 1919, Bumping into Broadway. The foldout insert included with the package also has an essay from film critic Phillip Lopate.


    Entertainment Value: 8.5/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 8.5/10

    Historical Significance:  9.5/10

    Special Features: 9/10

    Follow Real Movie News on Facebook and Twitter



    No comments: