Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Lloyd Hamilton: "The Speeder" (1922)
Tamara Flynn posted the above photo of Hamilton on ebay and asked me if I could identify the film title. I believe that the film is The Speeder (1922). The actor hanging onto Hamilton's leg is Tom Kennedy, who is credited as playing a neighborhood tough in The Speeder.
James W. Dean, critic of the Newspaper Enterprise, was a hard-won fan of Hamilton. He wrote of The Rainmaker (1922), "Our own thought is that The Rainmaker has more laughs than [Charlie Chaplin's] Pay Day last week and a heck of a lot more new stuff. 'Ham' has ventured into new fields for his comedy and has scored plenty." Dean was less enthusiastic of The Speeder because the film maintained no consistent story. It was Hamilton's preference to loosely string together a succession of gags and routines.
The film opens with a rundown of the different types of automobiles on the road in 1922. Then, we are introduced to Hamilton, feeling very important as he drives his modest new automobile. The Charlotte News noted, "There is almost a pathetic touch in Hamilton's portrayal of the young man who has spent his life's savings for a little flivver and then finds that all the fellows with big cars want to pick on him." The motorist's biggest problem occurs when he attempts to park his vehicle.
Then, suddenly, the film goes off in another direction. Dean wrote, "Hamilton is trapped in a sinking rowboat. The instructions for wearing the life belt are so involved that he sinks before he can adjust it. He is shown on the floor of the pond still holding the life preserver and reading the instructions." This was a variation of a routine that the comedian performed the previous year in Robinson Crusoe Ltd. (1921).
Hamilton emerges from the pond with a frog under his cap. Exhibitor's Trade Review noted, "[The frog's] jumping causes the cap to rise in apparent salute from the head of its wearer."
Other situations follow. Exhibitor's Trade Review reported, "There is another exceedingly funny episode in which the comedian has difficulty or rather a chain of difficulties trying to ignite a cigarette from a cigar lighter."
The Charlotte News concluded, "[N]o attention is paid to the ordinary speed limit for creating laughs, which come so fast that it is just one long scream."