Action / Comedy / Family

Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 88%
IMDb Rating 7.7 10 2529


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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by MissSimonetta 9 / 10

Harold Lloyd and NYC: a match made in movie heaven

SPEEDY is one of Harold Lloyd's most delightful movies, a fast-paced love letter to 1920s New York City. It's certainly one of his funniest movies, with a lot of clever gags and flourishes. The title cards are great too; out of all the silent comedians and comediennes working during this decade, I don't think a single one had better titles in their pictures than Harold Lloyd did.

The story is simple: Harold "Speedy" Swift is a go-getter who goes from one job to the next, though he never lets his spotty luck get him down. When his girlfriend's grandfather is in danger of losing his horse-drawn streetcar to the forces of modernity and big business corruption, Lloyd has to help the old guy from having his business sabotaged by greedy businessmen. The story is very loose: about twenty minutes of this eighty-six minute movie are devoted to Speedy and his girl having fun at Coney Island, with little that happens in those twenty minutes contributing to the overall story in any big way, but it does not matter. The movie is more about clever sight gags, the energetic NYC atmosphere, and likable characters, which makes it a good film to relax with after a long day at work.

Reviewed by JohnHowardReid 10 / 10

Spectacular silent comedy!

Copyright 7 April 1928 by the Harold Lloyd Corporation. New York opening at the Rivoli: 6 April 1928. U.S. release: 7 April 1928. 7,776 feet. 87 minutes.

COMMENT: Quite simply, the best comedy ever made, "Speedy" is a movie that has everything: sympathetic characters, a nice love story, a thrill-a-second chase climax, and some really outstanding gags. Add to that, Babe Ruth in person (the remarkably engaging Ruth emerges as quite an accomplished actor), superb location material of New York and Coney Island in 1928, an abundance of streetcars (I love movies about streetcars), an open-ended budget, and, above all, heart (an ingredient that so many modern films miss completely)!

In the 1920s, even more than today, there was enormous pressure on film-makers to surpass their previous efforts. "Speedy" was Lloyd's remarkable answer to a constant succession of hits. Starting with Safety Last in 1923, Lloyd turned out Why Worry? (also 1923), Girl Shy (1924), Hot Water (also 1924), The Freshman (1925), For Heaven's Sake (1926), The Kid Brother (1927), and Speedy (1928).

Alas, as it transpired, "Speedy" became both his biggest success and his last. Like his chief competitor, Chaplin, Lloyd was unable to make the transition to talkies, but whereas Chaplin wisely put off the evil day, Lloyd tackled talkies head on, until, years later, he was forced to retire, "bloody but unbowed."

Why did a formula that worked so well in silent cinema fail to achieve the same success with sound? The obvious answer is that, despite a generous sprinkling of witty sub-titles that delighted the critics and the Park Avenue set, Lloyd's appeal to the masses was primarily visual. He didn't come up with an endless succession of wisecracks like Bob Hope; or bounce tried-and-true vaudeville routines with a dumb stooge like Abbott homing in on Costello; or make faces while he sang funny songs like Danny Kaye or George Formby; or possess a well-honed retinue of repetitive dialogue phrases like Jack Benny or Laurel and Hardy or The Crazy Gang.

"Speedy" was actually Harold Lloyd's nick-name in real life, so it's appropriate to find him using that name in this movie. He had used it before, of course, in "The Freshman". But this character was now an entirely different "Speedy".

The carefully controlled pace of the movie and the ingenious way in which the leisurely opening sequences very gradually gather speed right up to the edge-of-the-seat climax, should serve as a lesson in perfect comedy construction.

A few critics (presumably not baseball fans) have complained about Babe Ruth's presence in the movie. He's superfluous, they claim. In point of fact, he's essential to the plot, as it's in the Ruth scene that we first see another side of "Speedy", the never- mind-the- consequences, go-for-it daredevil. And thus we have a second inkling of what we hope will develop into a brilliant running gag. And this is exactly what it does! Frankly, despite obvious process work and under-cranking, I doubt very much if Speedy's street chases have ever been equaled, let alone surpassed.

It would be impossible to remake the movie today, even with all the wizardry of computer animation, for less than $100 million. For sheer spectacle, "Speedy" is the number one comedy of all time. All the same, I wonder if there really were a few horse-drawn trolleys still in operation in some New York neighborhoods in 1928, as the film insists. Amazing!

Reviewed by SnoopyStyle 7 / 10

the old Coney Island

Pop Dillon operates the last horse-drawn trolley in New York. His loving granddaughter Jane has boyfriend Harold 'Speedy' Swift (Harold Lloyd) who is constantly changing jobs and dreams of being a baseball player. A railroad is trying to buy Pop's track. Pop negotiates a price but Speedy torpedoes the negotiations when he reads that the big railroads need Pop's run. Speedy takes Jane to Coney Island. He next gets a new job as a taxi cab driver. It goes badly until he picks up Babe Ruth. At Yankee Stadium, he overhears a man scheming to steal Pop's track by stopping the run for 24 hours.

This is famed silent era star Harold Lloyd's final silent movie. It's great to see Coney Island at its heights and the old rides. Babe Ruth makes a solid cameo. Harold Lloyd driving the Babe around is harrowing and kinda infuriating. It actually made me not like Speedy as much. There is quite a bit of action. I love the old Coney Island rides. The car chases are sometimes interesting with one shocking crash. It looks like it really hurted. The plot rambles around a bit. This has some fun and it's an easy watch.

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