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Speedy: Criterion Collection (1928) - Blu-ray Review

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Speedy (1928) - Blu-ray Review

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5 stars

Charlie Chaplin had his pathos. The melancholy Buster Keaton chased his inventive nature for great sight gags. So where does that leave the third clown of the silent era of film, the beloved Harold Lloyd? He's America's Everyman, winning over audiences with a positivity that is damn unstoppable. Even the crustiest of old farts can't help but laugh at the situations he gets himself into and the antics that follows while wooing the girl. Speedy, the film that even producer Hal Roach said was impossible to film, is proof positive of Lloyd's lasting effect and overall influence on the medium.

Released this week on blu-ray courtesy of The Criterion Collection (complete with a brand new 4k scan), Speedy is a comedy unlike many others of its time period. It's set in and filmed around the busy, busy New York City. And you thought the west was wild?! Nothing compares to the insanity Lloyd and photographer Walter Lundin captured here. Sure, sure Los Angeles doubles for some of the gags (and the observant eye will spot the differences in the two cities, their curbs, and lamp posts) BUT when Roach – Mac Sennett's fiercest competitor in the comedy business – told Lloyd and director Ted Wide that they were crazy to film on the streets of New York City, he meant it.

And Lloyd, using hidden camera techniques, proved him wrong.

In this rapid fire comedy, Lloyd's "Glasses Character" is an aloof New Yorker whose love of the Yankees and Babe Ruth keeps getting him searching for new work. It's not that he can't find work, it's just that he can't keep it. He has to know the score of the game and, as highlighted by his gig as a soda jerk slinging shakes and juices while keeping track of the game's score with pastries and eating number shapes in pretzels so that his friends in the kitchen can also know the score, he'll do anything to be up to date on the exciting events in Yankee Stadium.

When his girl's father (Bert Woodruff) finds himself – as the operator of the last horse-drawn streetcar – in a bit of a crisis from a larger transportation tycoon, Lloyd steps up to the plate. His journey through the streets of New York City sees him risking life and limb for Pop Dillon (and hilarity) as he leaps from scatterbrained side projects involving all sorts of transportation, into a taxi cab as its unfortunate driver, and outruns the cops at every corner. Of course - as he actually delivers THE Babe Ruth to the stadium – we already know he's going to save the day. It's Harold Lloyd, after all. It's HOW he does it that remains the joyous wonder of a gag-infused comedy like Speedy.

But, let's back up, there's a romance between himself and Jane (Ann Christy) that we need to pay attention. Why? Because it involves Coney Island. While Harold jokes that he always finds a job on Monday in order to justify a weekend of Roaring Twenties thrills and spills, he and Jane hop on over to Coney Island to revel in the magic there and, as far as time capsules go, this sequence – involving hilariously unsafe racing rides, wild boat plunges into deep water, and punishing contests measuring a person's stamina for dizziness – are both hysterical and historical.

Everything spins out of control, everything put the guiding penmanship in this love letter to New York City. That's why we love Harold Lloyd and that's why he – unlike his contemporaries – always gets the girl. This might have been his final silent feature but he went out with quite an impressive sounding bang.

Speedy is a catch.

Speedy (1928) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: Not rated.
Runtime:
85 mins
Director
: Ted Wilde
Writer:
John Grey (story), Lex Neal (story)
Cast:
Harold Lloyd, Ann Christy, Bert Woodruff
Genre
: Action | Comedy
Tagline:
LLOYD'S LATEST
Memorable Movie Quote: "It smells like rain."
Distributor:
Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
April 7, 1928
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
December 8, 2015
Synopsis: "Speedy" loses his job as a soda-jerk, then spends the day with his girl at Coney Island. He then becomes a cab driver and delivers Babe Ruth to Yankee Stadium, where he stays to see the game. When the railroad tries to run the last horse-drawn trolley (operated by his girl's grandfather) out of business, "Speedy" organizes the neighborhood oldtimers to thwart their scheme.

Speedy (1928) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - December 8, 2015
Screen Formats: 1.33:1
Subtitles
:
Audio:
TBA
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

The new 4K digital restoration from elements preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. This restoration involves insert segments scanned in 4K from Harold Lloyd Estate UCLA archive's preservation negative. The transfer is crisp with only a few areas where things get a little blurry. The black levels are strong and detail ripe. There is a musical score presented in uncompressed stereo by composer Carl Davis from 1992, synchronized and restored under his supervision and presented in uncompressed stereo on the Blu-ray.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • A new audio commentary featuring Bruce Goldstein, director of repertory programming at New York's Film Forum, and Turner Classic Movies director of program production Scott McGee goes over the making of the movie and its impact.

Special Features:

Criterion does not disappoint. First up is a new short documentary by Goldstein about the film's New York shoot in which he revisits, then there is a selection of rare archival footage from UCLA Film & Television Archive's Hearst Newsreel Collection of baseball legend Babe Ruth, who has a cameo in the film, presented by David Filipi, director of film and video at the Wexner Center for the Arts. A new visual essay featuring stills of deleted scenes from the film and narrated by Goldstein guides viewers through the film's production. There's also a nice selection of actor Harold Lloyd's home movies, narrated by his granddaughter, Suzanne Lloyd. Finally, the 25-minute two-reeler Bumping into Broadway (starring Lloyd and directed by Hal Roach) a 1919 Lloyd two-reeler, newly restored and with a 2004 score by Robert Israel is included. An essay by critic Phillip Lopate is packaged along with the disc. Simply put, if you are into silent comedies, this one is a must-own.

  • Deleted Scenes/Narrated Stills
  • Newsreel Footage (40 min)
  • Home Movies (18 min)
  • In The Footsteps Of Speedy (31 min)
  • Bumping Into Broadway (25 minute)

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