Monday, March 25, 2019

The Magic Flute

THE MAGIC FLUTE (Bergman, 1975)
Criterion Collection, Blu-ray, Release Date Mar 12, 2019
Review by Christopher S. Long

The plot of Mozart's “The Magic Flute” never really made much sense. Prince Tamino's first accomplishment is to faint while fighting a dragon. This leads the Queen of the Night and her assistants to identify him as just the man to rescue the Queen's kidnapped daughter, Pamina. They probably just think Tamino's hot, which is fair enough. The Queen gives the prince a magic flute that will help him in his quest, but it doesn't really do much, and anyway, Tamino discovers that the kidnapper, Sorastro, isn't such a bad guy after all. A big battle brews at the end, but the bad guys just suddenly disappear, and everyone else lives happily ever after. Or maybe not, I'm not entirely sure. The End.

None of this has prevented millions from falling in love with one of the most-performed operas of all time, with Swedish director Ingmar Bergman proudly numbering himself among its biggest fans. Bergman actually tried to stage the opera in his childhood puppet theater, but wouldn't get to fulfill his dream until the much-ballyhooed 1975 release of his film adaptation.

After a few bucolic outdoor shots, Bergman moves into the theater (a recreation of the Drottningholm Theater, built in the 18th century in Stockholm) and lingers on the faces of the audience members as they listen to the overture. Though he focuses on a smiling little girl, Bergman shows close-ups of a diverse collection of opera enthusiasts of many ages and races, suggesting his eagerness to share his love of this opera with the whole world. To be honest, I found this extended montage of face it a bit on the interminable side, but it's certainly heartfelt.

Though Bergman made some substantive changes to the material (Sarastro is now Pamina's father, which casts the Queen of the Night as an embittered ex-wife), he and cinematographer Sven Nykvist present a fairly straightforward staged opera, though with a few playful looks backstage, including the Queen of the Night (Birgit Nordin) taking a smoke break at intermission. The action moves briskly as Bergman delights in underscoring the grand artifice of the big show, with unconvincing (yet charming) costumed creatures cavorting in the background and the actual text of the lyrics at times draped above the actors.

As Prince Tamino and Princess Pamina, Josef Kostlinger and Irma Urrila are little more than a blandly virtuous prince and a princess in need of rescuing, but they were cast to sing which they do pretty darn well. Hakan Hagegard steals all his scenes as the comic-relief chatterbox Papageno, whose function has always been to steal pretty much every staging of “The Magic Flute” so Bergman's just observing tradition here. Nordin shreds it as the Queen of the Night. Is “shreds it” standard opera criticism? Sorry, I am but a novice.

The film is presented in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio. The film was digitally restored in 2017 by the Swedish Film Institute. Criterion originally released this on DVD in 2000 (it retains Spine Number 71) with a transfer many considered subpar by the company's high standards. This high-def restored transfer showcases warm colors and a bright overall look. The image generally looks a bit soft, or at least not as sharp as the best Criterion 1080p transfers, but it's still a strong effort. I don't own the old DVD as a comparison point, but from everything I've read and stills I've seen online, this looks like a substantial upgrade.

The music for the film was prerecorded with Eric Ericson as orchestral director, and the singers mimed to their lines for the film. The lossless stereo mix captures the score quite robustly with no dropoff or any evident weaknesses at all. Optional English subtitles support the Swedish audio.

The original Criterion DVD release was bare bones. This Blu-ray upgrade isn't exactly packed with extras, but offers a few interesting supplements.

In a new interview (2018, 18 min.), critic Peter Cowie discusses the film's production history and provides some analysis of the unique Bergman touches added to Mozart's opera.

The disc also includes an interview with Bergman (29 min.), conducted by Sigvard Hammar, which originally aired on Dec 27, 1974, in tandem with the film's holiday release. Bergman casts himself as a populist, making an opera that the whole family can enjoy.

“Tystnad! Tagning! Trollflojten!” (1975, 65 min.) is a behind-the-scenes documentary which originally aired on Swedish TV on Jan 6, 1975. I found it a bit dull and rambling, to be honest, but fans might enjoy some of the looks at the film's crew hard at work.

The slim fold-out booklet includes an essay by author Alexander Chee.

Final Thoughts:
Bergman's “The Magic Flute” is often described as one of the best filmed operas, a judgment I'm not qualified to assess. It's certainly a fun ride, a much more sprightly and pleasant film than some viewers might expect from the stern Swede, but then again he directed his fair share of comedies. Like “The Seventh Seal.” Seriously, that's a damn funny movie – Gunnar Bjornstrand's sarcastic squire cracks me up every time.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Kid Brother

THE KID BROTHER (Wilde/Lloyd/Milestone, 1927)
Criterion Collection, Blu-ray, Release Date Mar 12, 2019
Review by Christopher S. Long

In “Safety Last!” (1923), Harold Lloyd climbed to cinematic immortality. With each grueling step up the side of a towering office building, the traffic-clogged streets of Los Angeles clearly visible far, far below, he ratcheted up the tension to nearly unbearable levels. This greatest and most audacious of all action sequences still astonishes nearly a century later, generating the nervous laughter that became a Lloyd trademark and leaving even the savviest of viewers wondering how in the hell that lunatic didn't kill himself in the process. Never mind that Lloyd made the climb while missing a couple fingers on his right hand.

Lloyd followed up in other films by clambering over rickety construction sites and other perilous locations, gleefully jangling everyone's nerves, but in “The Kid Brother” (1927), silent cinema's great daredevil proved his versatility by making a climb strictly for love. As the sweet and shy Harold Hickory (Lloyd, decked out as his signature Glasses character) bids farewell to the sweet and shy Mary Powers (Jobyna Ralston), he scrambles to the lowest branch of a tree so he can keep his darling in sight just a second longer. She waves goodbye again and crests a hill, so Harold climbs to the next branch, still savoring the sight of his dearest. And then the next branch and then... a hard tumble all the way down, where the smile on Harold's face as he sprawls in the dirt shows it was all worth it. It's one of the most endearing sequences in Lloyd's work, a heartstring-tugger that showcases the combination of heart and chutzpah that made Lloyd one of the most popular movie stars of any era.

Harold Hickory isn't just eager to impress Mary. He's equally desperate to prove that he's as manly a man as his father (Walter James), the heroic sheriff of the town of Hickoryville (it's a family tradition) and his strapping brothers (Leo Willis and Olin Francis) who have little patience for their wallflower kid brother. Lloyd was a gifted athlete, notorious in the Hollywood scene for his ferocious tennis and handball play, and created the impression of being a Harold Milquetoast by casting the film with literal heavies, not just his brawny family members, but also the central villain, a grotesque bruiser played by German wrestler Constantine Romanoff, who is listed on IMDB at 6'2” but absolutely towers over the lithe 5'10” Lloyd.

“The Kid Brother” mixes in as many gags per minute as any Lloyd picture, with some of the biggest laughs coming in an extended sequence where Harold's he-man father and brothers cower in terror for fear of being seen in their underwear by Mary. But the film only really ramps up the tension in the final act, when Harold boards an abandoned ship to retrieve some money stolen from his father. Once Harold boards the listing Black Ghost, he has to negotiate a landscape of wild diagonals, the 45-degree environment making the climactic battle all the more harrowing, and demanding all of the kid brother's ingenuity. This includes figuring out how to get a tiny monkey to wear heavy boots and clomp around the boat, but that's a complicated story.

Watching almost any Lloyd film, you know that, no matter how long the odds may seem, he's going to save the day, and yet you're still going to cheer when the big moment arrives. Fifteen years and a few hundred films into his career, Lloyd had already perfected the blockbuster formula, one that would carry him well into the sound era. He and his team of gag writers and directors (the film is credited to Ted Wilde, though others directed, including the great Lewis Milestone) knew every button to push and every beat to hit. You know you're being played like a fiddle, and you don't mind one bit. 

The film is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. From the Criterion booklet: “This new digital transfer was created in4 K resolution at the Packard Humanities Institute in Santa Clarita, CA, on a Scanity film scanner from Harold Lloyd Entertainment's 35 mm fine-graint struck from the original camera negative and preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive. The image was then restored by L'Immagine Ritrovata in Bolgona, Italy.

Lloyd owned most of his films and stored them on his estate. Some were destroyed in a fire, but those that survived are generally in better shape than most silent films. Even knowing that, the quality of this 1080p is astonishing, with crisp image resolution and sharp B&W contrast throughout. Some modest signs of damage to this 90+ year-old print are evident at times, but far less than you would expect. Quite simply, this new high-def transfer looks great.

Listeners can choose their musical accompaniment, with a 1989 orchestral score by composer Carl Davis as the default option, with an alternate choice of an archival organ score performed by the great Gaylord Carter, who passed away in 2000. Both enhance the experience greatly, and sound robust in an LPCM 2.0 mix.

“The Kid Brother” clocks in at a crisp 82 minutes. Criterion has supplemented it with over two hours worth of supplementary features.

The film is accompanied by the commentary track from the 2005 New Line Home Entertainment DVD release, featuring film historian Annette D'Agostino Lloyd, Harold Lloyd archivist Richard Correll, and Harold Lloyd's granddaughter Suzanne Lloyd.

The new feature “Harold's Leading Ladies” (30 min.) is a conversation between Suzanne Lloyd and author Carl Beauchamp. This discussion covers the three main leading ladies from Harold Lloyd's films: Bebe Daniels (to whom Harold was engaged), Mildred Davis (his wife, and Suzanne Lloyd's grandmother), and Jobyna Ralston (co-star of “The Kid Brother.”)

In “Anatomy of a Gag: Monkeyshoes” (9 min.), critic and filmmaker David Cairns touches on how Lloyd constructed some gags, with a focus on the film's frenetic final act.

In “Close to Home” (16 min.) author and location historian John Bengtson talks about the locations used in the movie, providing some fascinating information, including the fact that the town of Hickoryville was built on part of the location that is now Forrest Lawn Cemetery.

“Greenacres” (15 min.) is a 2005 piece also imported from the old New Line release in which Suzanne Lloyd takes viewers on a tour of what remains of Harold's vast Greenacres estate, one of the earliest sprawling movie star mansions built in Beverly Hills. It must have been quite a place to play as a kid.

We also get an interview with Harold Lloyd (16 min.) which was originally broadcast on Dutch public television on Dec 14, 1962, on the occasion of the release of his popular compendium film, “Harold Lloyd's World of Comedy.” Lloyd talks about his career, his feelings about contemporary comedy, and directs a brief tour of Greenacres, which includes a shot of the famous gigantic Christmas tree Lloyd showed off every year.

The disc also includes a collection of Behind-the-Scenes still photos from the movie's production.

As wonderful as many of these pieces are, the real gems in this collection, and genuine treats for any Lloyd enthusiast, are two short films that were once believed to be lost (Lloyd owned all of his films, but many prints were destroyed in a fire on his estate.) “Over the Fence” (1917, 5 min.) is actually the first appearance of Lloyd's trademark Glasses character. Glasses tries to take his gal (Bebe Daniels) to a baseball game, but things go wrong in classic Glasses fashion. He eventually winds up pitching and then knocking out the umpire. I loved it. “That's Him!” (1918, 11 min.) shows Lloyd and Daniels as a poor newlywed couple who inherit money, but have challenges in claiming it. It's pure knockabout hijinx and plenty of fun. Both shorts are accompanied by new scores by organist Mark Herman. See the “Wurlitzer” feature below for more information.

The two shorts are accompanied by the featurette “Preserving Harold” (11 min.) in which archivist Dino Everett of USC discusses the challenges of restoring these two films from unusual formats (9.5 mm and 28mm).

I loved the riveting short documentary (20 min.) about a giant Wurlitzer organ used during the silent era that has been preserved and restored by composer Nathan Barr. Barr and organist Mark Herman provide a multi-room tour of this massive and unbelievably versatile behemoth that provided the live accompaniment to many silent films. What a machine! Herman performed the scores for the two short films mentioned above on this Wurlitzer.

The slim fold-out booklet features an appreciative essay by critic Carrie Rickey.

Final Thoughts:
When asked for his favorite film, Lloyd often chose “The Kid Brother.” I wouldn't quite agree with him, as I think this is a step below his best-known films such as “Safety Last!”, “The Freshman” (1925), and “Speedy” (1928). But it's still a gem that was a big hit in its day (like virtually every Lloyd film was, even his first few sound features) and reminds of just how versatile his Glasses character could be.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Safety Last!

SAFETY LAST! (Lloyd, 1923)
Criterion Collection, Blu-ray, Release Date June 18, 2013
Review by Christopher S. Long

(Re-posted, along with my review of Speedy, in honor of Harold Lloyd's birthday.)

Belief is an antiquated concept in the era of computer-generated cinema, but back in an age when the movies still had something to do with photography audiences believed in Harold Lloyd. For a grueling, thrilling, scary, hilarious twenty minutes, they believed that Harold Lloyd was climbing the side of a department store building and that he could fall at any minute. The tagline might have been, “You'll believe a man can die.”

Sure, the papers would probably have mentioned if Harold Lloyd had really splattered all over downtown Los Angeles, but this plucky little bugger with his horn-rimmed glasses and straw hat was no blob of pixels. He was an everyday Joe who had to deal with everyday problems like work and romance and gravity. The character he played was no daredevil either; he was just a guy who somehow found himself in a situation (OK, he did it to himself) where he had to scramble up a massive building one hardscrabble story at a time, facing brand new obstacles at each leg of the journey: pigeons, badminton nets, spinning anemometers, and the most famous clock in the history of cinema. He fell or almost fell time and time again, and audiences gasped each time, and then laughed when he recovered, and then gasped again at the next setback. 

The real Harold Lloyd might have had a safety mattress waiting for him on a platform about ten feet below, but even with a partially prosthetic hand (he had lost a couple fingers to a prop bomb that turned out to be a little too real) he was really letting it all hang out, his feet swinging free over the city streets as he dug his fingers, both real and fake, into ledges or dangled from the giant hands of a malfunctioning clock, finding a way to drag his body past overhangs that hung way, way over. The twenty-minute climb was the ultimate expression of a decade defined by daring stunts (human flies and flagpole sitters were all the rage) and it is certainly one of the defining sequences of silent cinema.

By now, Harold Lloyd's name has been restored to its proper place in the history books, but he is still generally viewed as silent comedy's “third genius” after Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Lloyd was just as popular in his day, but he held closely to the rights to all his films and didn't care to see them played on television where he had no control over broadcast editing, so his public profile diminished relative to his fellow geniuses. Film buffs and historians never let his memory fade, but it took plenty of heavy lifting to get his films back in circulation, an effort that got an extra boost from the advent of the DVD market.

“Safety Last!” (1923) remains the best known of his movies and with good reason. By the early-'20s, Lloyd had moved on from his Tramp-knockoff character Lonesome Luke and perfected his signature Glasses Character who could be meek or aggressive, sly or buffoonish, but always used those trademark glasses (no lenses, mind you) to forge a direct connection with the audience. Where Chaplin was an alien and Keaton was some kind of superhero, Lloyd as Glasses was an everyman. In “Safety Last!” he is a country lad who moves to the big city to make his fortune before he sends for the love of his life, played by Mildred Davis who also turned out to be the love of Lloyd's life. He works in a department store where he is unappreciated by his bosses and by his demanding customers, but never gives anything less than maximum effort, not for a second.

That was Lloyd's trademark as a craftsman and a performer as well. Never content to tell one joke, he constructed elaborate gags that led to other gags and then still more, a series of rapid-fire payoffs that kept audiences on their toes. Screenwriting manuals have turned the word “obstacle” into a risible cliché, but Lloyd knew all about obstacles and how to make viewers care as they watched him overcome one after another on top of another stacked inside of still another. Escalating action? Yeah, escalating right up a damn building!

The situations were utterly implausible but completely believable because of Lloyd's intense, wired physical presence. Forever hanging from that clock, he is the avatar of a heroic age of filmmaking where bodies defied gravity because they had no choice. It wasn't going to get fixed in post-production. No digital buffing or polishing, just sinew and sheer tenacity. We'll never see anything like it again, but that's OK because ninety years of evidence has proven that nobody's ever going to do it better.

The film is presented in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio. From the Criterion booklet, “The film is also presented at a variable frame rate of approximately 22 frames per second to conform to film historian Kevin Brownlow's presentation and the Carl Davis score that accompanies it.” It's a 1080i transfer, a rare interlaced high-def effort from Criterion, but the interlacing is barely noticeable at all.

There are scratches and bits of debris evident from the source material at times, but overall this high-def transfer is pretty spectacular with a rich gain structure and shockingly detailed image quality throughout. For anyone used to settling for whatever version you could find in the '80s and even for folks familiar with the solid but unspectacular SD release in 2005, this upgrade is quite a revelation. Crisp, sharp contrast, everything you could ask for. This movie is 90 years old?

As you may know, silent films were seldom played silently. Criterion offers two scores. The default option is a jazzy orchestral score by Carl Davis, recorded in 1989. Second is a score by organist Gaylord Carter that was improvised to a screening of the film circa 1969. Carter is described as Lloyd's favorite theater organist. The Davis score is presented in stereo, the Carter score in mono, though I don't think you can tell much difference on that front. I prefer the Davis score, but they're both worth sampling. Both sound sharp and resonant in linear PCM mixes.

Some of the extras were included on the SD release in New Line's 2005 “Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection” while others are new for this Criterion release.

The commentary track (offered on the SD) was recorded in 2005 and features critic Leonard Maltin in conversation with Harold Lloyd's archivist Richard Correll. It's rather breezy in nature and features a lot of scene-by-scene appreciations (Wow, isn't this awesome!) but also includes some historical and contextual information. Overall, it's mildly disappointing but of some interest.

Criterion has included an introduction (17 min.) by Suzanne Lloyd, Harold's granddaughter who was raised in Mr. Lloyd's house. I don't know if this was included on the old SD or is new for this set.

“Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius” (1989, 108 min.) is a great two-part television documentary directed by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill and narrated by director Lindsay Anderson. The program, originally presented as part of the American Masters series, is essential viewing for any Lloyd aficionado and includes ample archival footage along with interviews with Lloyd's collaborators, including producer/director Hal Roach.

“Locations and Effects” (2013, 20 min.) is a new interview with writer John Bengtson and visual effects expert Craig Barron which provides a fascinating analysis of both the downtown Los Angeles locations featured in the movie (notice the three different buildings visible in the background as Glasses makes his climb) and the effects used. Finding out about the tricks used will only leave you more amazed by the movie.

Criterion has also included a new interview with composer Carl Davis (2013, 24 min.) who talks about his work on “Safety Last!” and other silent films he has composed new scores for since the '80s.

Best of all, we also get new restorations of three of Lloyd's short films: “Take a Chance” (1918), “Young Mr. Jazz” (1919), and “His Royal Slyness” (1920). None of these films were included on the New Line boxed set. Each film comes with optional commentary tracks by Richard Correll and John Bengtson.

The 20-page insert booklet includes an essay by critic Ed Park.

Film Value:
“Safety Last!” has finally received the home theater presentation it deserves. Of course it's highly recommended.

Friday, March 22, 2019


SPEEDY (Lloyd, 1928)
Criterion Collection, Blu-ray, Release Date Dec 8, 2015
Review by Christopher S. Long

This iteration of Harold Lloyd's trademark Glasses Character earns his nickname Speedy (also the real Lloyd's nickname). A bundle of fast-twitch nerves, he races from one self-generated crisis to the next, leaving a trail of wreckage in his well-meaning wake.

This makes New York City, the town “where everyone's in a hurry,” the perfect home for Speedy. But while Lloyd's signature character was usually eager to fit in, whether in college (“The Freshman”) or at work (“Safety Last!”), he earned sympathy from the audience by situating himself proudly as an outsider. The young go-getting Speedy (also identified as Harold Swift on a series of traffic tickets scrawled by an exasperated policeman) actually makes his home in a quieter part of the city (round about Greenwich Village) where the more leisurely pace of life is embodied by Pop Dillon (Bert Woodruff) who operates the last remaining horse-drawn trolley car in New York.

When Pop's business is threatened by a corrupt rail tycoon who intends to acquire the old man's track by any means necessary, Speedy rushes to assist Pop. No doubt the young man is motivated by his love for Pop's charming granddaughter Jane (Ann Christy), but he also has the kind of big heart that drives him irresistibly to the cause of the underdog; Speedy will also ally with a group of grizzled Civil War veterans in a sprawling battle against the cheap hoodlums seeking to sink Pop's business, the vastly superior prequel to “Gangs of New York.”

“Speedy” (1928) was released at the tail end of a remarkable box-office run by Lloyd that rivaled or exceeded Charlie Chaplin's and would also be Lloyd's final silent feature – silent cinema itself would be all but finished a year later. His Glasses character was well-established by then, but the most noticeable change this time was a major shift in setting. Keen to move away from overly-familiar Southern California locations, Lloyd briefly considered shooting in Europe, then settled on filming on location in New York despite producer Hal Roach warning him of the inevitable logistical nightmares.

Lloyd needed to be pretty speedy on set. As one of the most recognizable people in America, he had to be ready to jump right into action in Greenwich Village or Times Square before crowds figured out what was happening. In some scenes, Lloyd's team deftly incorporated the throngs of onlookers into the action. Many sequences, both outdoor and indoor, were still filmed on studio sets back west, but the movie's shots of Coney Island, including a breath-taking vista of its glittering night-time lights, still thrill today. Some of the Coney Island rides were shot on location, others in studio, and all look so outrageously dangerous they speak of a less-litigious era. And that part where Lloyd flips himself the bird in the funhouse mirror remains the stuff of legend.

Even if you're not a city buff, “Speedy” offers yet another distinct thrill. Speedy is a die-hard baseball fan who requires that his numerous short-term jobs (he always finds another one on Monday) be within “phoning distance” of Yankee Stadium. In one of the film's quietest but niftiest gags, Speedy, working as a soda jerk, relays phone updates of the Yankees score to the kitchen staff by arranging bagels and pretzels in a display case to mimic the inning-by-inning scores. Zeroes are easy, threes a bit trickier. 

Speedy later gets works as a taxi driver, a gig that he only holds onto for a few hours because that's just the way he rolls, but Lloyd finds the time to pick up one of the few fares in the country who was more famous than him. In the midst of his legendary 1927 season, Babe Ruth appears as himself, first handing out signed memorabilia to kids and then as an unwitting victim locked in the back seat of Speedy's taxi. Rattled and shaken by the frantic ride, Ruth proves to have an even bigger heart than the film's star and invites Speedy in to watch the game. Unsurprisingly, Speedy doesn't stay seated for more than a few minutes before unleashing chaos, but it's the thought that counts, Babe.

Where “Safety Last!” featured one of cinema's most precise and awe-inspiring displays of virtuosity, “Speedy” settles more for madcap hijinks, sheer kinetic frenzy. The rumble between the aging Civil War vets and young toughs is a mess of grappling bodies livened by a few specific stunts, and the framing story about Pop's horsecar is put on hold for long stretches in favor of what's really important: racing furiously from one gag (or one vehicle) to the next with minimal concern for narrative structure.

Which is exactly as it should be when you've got a performer as winning and as relentless as Harold Lloyd, a star who connected with audiences like few others before or since. Of course, that means that Speedy ultimately saves Pop and gets the girl, and if you consider that a spoiler, welcome to your first movie. You've picked a great one to start with!

The film is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The film was restored by Digital Film Restore in Burbank, CA and “this new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution... from a safety fine-grain master positive deposited at the UCLA Film & Television Archive by the Harold Lloyd estate.” Some scenes were scanned from the archive's preservation negative.

In high-def, this restored transfer looks fabulous with strong black-and-white contrast and a thick grain structure that provides a sense of texture and depth, which is all a way of saying this looks very filmic. There are some minor instances of damage and a few skipped frames, but that can all be forgiven for the opportunity to this 1928 film in such a marvelous version.

The silent film is accompanied by a 1992 score by composer Carl Davis. The lively score has been synchronized and restored for this release and is presented in uncompressed stereo. It sounds great throughout, rich and resonant. Hey, how long do you expect an Audio section for a silent film to be?

Criterion has provided an extensive and varied collection of extras for this Blu-ray release.

The film is accompanied by a new commentary track featuring Bruce Goldstein, director of repertory programming at the New York Film Forum and Scott McGee, director of program production at Turner Classic Movies.

Goldstein returns as director and onscreen narrator of “In The Footsteps of 'Speedy'” (2015, 31 min.) This short documentary discusses the many New York locations featured in the film along with background about the production and some great still photos. Goldstein is equally enthusiastic about the movie and about New York and offers plenty of remarkably detailed analysis of the city locations. This will be a treat for fans of urban history.

The bigger treat for a baseball junky like me is the lengthy (40 min.) Babe Ruth feature included on this disc. David Filipi, director of film and video at the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University has curated a program of archival film clips featuring the Babe. In this feature, he provides on-screen introductions for the remarkable variety of clips included. They're all great, but some of the highlights include seeing Babe Ruth playing golf with pitcher Bob Shawkey, umpire Bill Klem and New York Governor Al Smith; football coach Knute Rockne visiting Yankee Stadium to see Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Yankee manager Miller Huggins, and Babe conducting a 1940 hitting clinic for boys at Yankee Stadium. You also get some game footage, including brief clips from the 1932 World Series and the first two All-Star games. I love every second of this!

The disc also includes another short feature (4 min.) narrated by Bruce Goldstein, this time talking briefly about some deleted scenes with still photos as visual accompaniment.

We also get a selection of Home Movie (18 min.) from the Harold Lloyd Archives with narration by the director's granddaughter Suzanne Lloyd. This mostly consists of footage of Lloyd and family around the house, often entertaining their baby daughter Gloria (Suzanne's mother). Suzanne provides some affectionate and engaging commentary which helps when the footage drags on and feels a bit redundant.

The final extra is the 1919 short film “Bumping Into Broadway” (26 min.), the first two-reeler to feature the Glasses Character. The film is set in New York though not filmed there. Lloyd plays an aspiring playwright who crosses paths with a struggling show girl played by star Bebe Daniels. I thought this short was fantastic and darned funny. It benefits from a peppy 2004 score by Robert Israel.

The fold-out insert booklet features an essay by critic Phillip Lopate.

Film Value:
Harold Lloyd was s superstar every bit on par with Chaplin and Keaton in the '20s. “Speedy” is a splendid entertainment that showcases Lloyd at the height of his powers. Criterion has included some fantastic extras to augment the finest transfer you're likely to see of Lloyd's final silent feature. And the Babe Ruth program on the disc makes this an option for baseball fans who have yet to discover the joys of Harold Lloyd.