The Harold Lloyd movie Speedy was highly unusual, because very few major silent movies were made outside Hollywood. That makes this little gem all the more unique, depicting the Big Apple as it was in the summer of 1927. Lindbergh had just flown the Atlantic, Duke Ellington was playing at the Cotton Club and the Yankees reigned supreme beneath that increasingly iconic skyline.
In the movie, Lloyd plays title character Harold “Speedy” Swift, a blazing incompetent trying different jobs for size in between meeting up with his girl Jane, played by Ann Christy. Speedy’s next job as a taxi-cab driver ends disastrously, but not before he takes Yankees legend Babe Ruth for an insane ride across town. Later in the film, Lloyd repeats the madcap dash through New York’s streets in a horse-drawn carriage and a double-decker bus.
The stunts were, of course, meticulously organised but one gets a certain sense that in the Age of Adventure, things were rather more on a wing and a prayer than in today’s slick high budget action movies. It would be impossible to put the whole film up and expect you to enjoy it, but do look it up. Meanwhile, here are some of the action-packed sequences mashed up to the accompaniment of my all-time favourite Rolling Stones song to make rather a heady brew.