Speedy

I was getting my appetite back, although I could barely finish my lunch. I gave my lecture and handed back the class’ last quiz, then returned home to watch the Tonight Show from February 21, 1986, with Shirley Muldowney, Jerry Seinfeld, and Oprah Winfrey. Oprah sure sounded different in those days. I watched the Criterion Collection DVD of Harold Lloyd’s “Speedy,” which I thought was a very good movie. Harold plays another character named Harold, and the director was Ted Wilde. Harold is a man who can’t hold a job, and one of his great interests is baseball. He ends up trying to save the city’s last horse-drawn streetcar. In real life, they were gone by 1917. The film gives us a look at what New York City was like in the 1920s. The sequence that was shot at Coney Island was very amusing. I wondered how much food the actors and crew ate. I thought back to one movie that was released during my lifetime that did have a Coney Island montage, which was “Sophie’s Choice.” Babe Ruth makes a cameo appearance, which is fun, although I wouldn’t say that he was a great actor. He was supposed to be afraid of Harold’s reckless driving through traffic, done with projection effects. Lou Gehrig is in one shot. The game between the Yankees and the White Sox that is going on early in the movie never happened. The White Sox were the home team according to the box score, and then later in the movie, Babe wants a taxi ride from Harold to Yankee Stadium. I didn’t keep track of the timeline, but it was curious. It looked like some of those stunts were dangerous because of the high speed. The story sentimentalizes these horse-drawn cars, because the horses needed to be cleaned up after. They also suffered from the work. Harold Lloyd’s films didn’t go for the emotional pull or morality of Charlie Chaplin, so there is just the pleasure of watching them. I didn’t know why Harold went to such trouble to get a seat on the subway, and it would seem that a New Yorker would have become very angry at him for his antics. Some of the footage was shot in Los Angeles, which was a shame. The film was the signal of the end of an era because it was Harold Lloyd’s last silent film. It was an excellent and enjoyable effort, though. “Speedy” was Harold Lloyd’s nickname in real life. I think that these Criterion Collection discs of Harold Lloyd’s films are going to do a lot for his reputation in film history. It’s good to see both Lloyd’s and Chaplin’s films being released in these impressive editions. “Speedy” comes with a second disc of special features. There is a documentary on the making of the film, and some archival footage of Babe Ruth. There was an audio commentary track that was informative. Some of the people who died on February 17 include Molière (1673), Geronimo (1909), Bruno Walter (1962), Thelonius Monk (1982), Lee Strasberg (1982), and Mindy McCready (2013). Today is a birthday for Michael Jordan (53), Lou Diamond Phillips (54), Rene Russo (62), and Jim Brown (80). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for February 17, “The Greatest Story Ever Told” had its Los Angeles premiere in 1965. In 1970, Joni Mitchell announced her retirement from live performances, although that retirement would be short-lived. In 1971, James Taylor made his television debut on the Johnny Cash Show, performing “Fire and Rain” and “Carolina in My Mind.” In 1972, Pink Floyd debuted the music from “Dark Side of the Moon” in a concert at the Rainbow Theatre in London.

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