Film Festival Picks | Speedy at City Varieties


Often unfairly overlooked, the silent comedies of Harold Lloyd crackle with frenetic, dizzying inventiveness. Responsible for creating one of the truly iconic images of the silent era – where he hangs from a giant clock face, high above a busy Los Angeles street (a stunt so brilliantly bonkers it was recycled by Will Hay) – Lloyd made a string of lightning-paced, proto-screwball comedies guaranteed to give any health and safety officer the heebie-jeebies. Speedy, showing at Leeds City Varieties with Laurel & Hardy short, Battle of the Century, harnesses every bit of the silent comedian’s anarchic genius, and is one of his absolute must-see films. As Harold ‘Speedy’ Swift, Lloyd finds himself forced into increasingly mad-cap exertions to rescue the last horse drawn streetcar in New York from extinction. Bursting with visually inventive gags and lunatic stunts, the climax of the movie is a reckless, headlong chase through the streets of Manhattan. With the spectre of talking pictures already looming when Speedy was released, the film is a breathless love letter to the silent caper comedies for which the star was known (it was to be his last silent outing, in fact). It is a dazzling, fertile affair, held together by Lloyd’s endearing onscreen persona with its trademark ‘pair of glasses and a smile.’

Speedy and Battle of the Century (both featuring live musical accompaniment) are showing at Leeds City Varieties on Monday 7th November at 20:15. For more information, visit

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