Harold Lloyd's final silent feature, SPEEDY has enough plot for a great two-reeler and enough padding to stuff a mattress factory. But, to quote a title of another Lloyd film, why worry? The padding is so entertaining, especially if you are nostalgic, it only adds to the enjoyment of the film.
The main story concerns Harold's attempt to keep shady businessmen and thugs from ruining his future father-in-law's horse car business. But for the entire middle section of the film, this plot is nowhere to be found. First, Harold and his girl (Ann Christy, replacing usual Lloyd costar Jobyna Ralston) spend a day at Coney Island, at the time when Coney Island consisted of three separate amusement parks. In this section, it hardly matters what gags Lloyd pulls off, since we get to see him execute those gags in a Coney Island that we will never see again. Amusement park fans will love this section, especially for shots of the legendary "Steeplechase" ride and the giant water slide.
Later, Harold (here called "Speedy", his real-life nickname) gets a job as a taxi driver. But after some good gags in which Harold fails to pick up a single fare, the sequence reveals itself to be just an excuse to give Yankee great Babe Ruth an extended cameo as Lloyd's passenger. Ruth had established the new home run record in baseball a year before, and it is still a real treat to see America's favorite ballplayer and America's favorite comedian in the same film. (After a rough ride in Lloyd's cab, Ruth quips, via a title card, "If I ever want to commit suicide, I'll call you.")
Eventually SPEEDY gets back to its slim story, ending on a chase through the streets of New York that was meant to top the chase of GIRL SHY. It is a good sequence, but it lacks the urgency and creativity of the GIRL SHY chase and is marred by several extremely obvious process shots. Lloyd, who, like Keaton, never liked to cheat an audience, so it is particularly jarring to see such shortcuts in one of his films.
SPEEDY will never be remembered as a great work of art, but it is so full of nostalgia, it hardly matters. There are so many great things in the film that we will never see again: Luna Park, Babe Ruth, elevated trains, streetcars and horse cars all running in Manhattan at the same time, and of course, Harold Lloyd, especially a silent Harold Lloyd. ½ - JB
At one point in the movie, when Harold looks into a funhouse mirror, he finds that the back of his jacket has been ruined. He is so angry at himself, he flips his middle finger at his reflection!