Harold Lloyd in The Milky Way (1936)



(directors: Leo McCarey/Norman Z. McLeod (uncredited); screenwriters: Grover Jones/Frank Butler/Richard Connell/from play by Lynn Root and Harry Clork; cinematographer: Alfred Gilks; editor: LeRoy Stone; cast: Harold Lloyd (Burleigh Sullivan), Adolphe Menjou (Gabby Sloan), Verree Teasdale (Ann Westley), Helen Mack (Mae Sullivan), William Gargan (Speed McFarland), George Barbier (Wilbur Austin), Dorothy Wilson (Polly Pringle), Lionel Stander (Spider Schultz), Charles Lane (Willard), Marjorie Gateson (Mrs. Winthrop Lemoyne); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: E. Lloyd Sheldon/Adolph Zukor; Paramount; 1936)

“Many say this is Harold Lloyd’s best talkie.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Co-directed by Leo McCarey (“The Awful Truth”/”Ruggles of Red Gap”/”Duck Soup”) and an uncredited Norman Z. McLeod (who shot a few scenes when McCarey was hospitalized). Many say this is Harold Lloyd’s best talkie. McLeod remade it in 1946 as The Kid from Brooklyn and a hammier Danny Kaye replaced Lloyd. It’s based on the play by Lynn Root and Harry Clork and written by Grover Jones, Frank Butler and Richard Connell.

Mild-mannered Sunflower Dairy milkman Burleigh Sullivan (Harold Lloyd) defends his sister Mae’s (Helen Mack) honor when the nightclub hat check girl is assaulted by two drunken bruisers on the street. During the street brawl it appears that the middleweight champion Speed McFarland (William Gargan) was knocked out by Burleigh, but it was really his sparring partner Spider Schultz (Lionel Stander) who threw a punch and the milkman ducked. But the newspapers all over the country have a field day with the story of a scrawny milkman knocking out the burly champ. When Speed’s scheming manager Gabby Sloan (Adolphe Menjou) and his wisecracking long-suffering girlfriend of 14 years, Ann (Verree Teasdale), arrive in town to spin the story, Gabby learns the truth. Burleigh goes on to explain he learned the art of ducking as a kid, because he was always picked on. Gabby then comes up with a plan to promote the unwitting Burleigh in a series of fixed prize fights to build him up as a possible foe for his client Speed. Burleigh, now with the nickname Tiger, takes the offer because he can use the money to get treatment for his beloved ailing milk-wagon horse Agnes. Gabby has the deluded Burleigh believing he is a great prize-fighter after he wins these fixed fights and now he takes on in NYC the middleweight champion in the big paying championship fight, where he’s expected to lose.

Dorothy Wilson plays Polly, Lloyd’s good-hearted manicurist girlfriend.

Lloyd’s cornball slapstick humor never appealed to me, and this lame sports comedy is no exception. At best, it’s only a modest effort—perhaps, even if you’re a fan of the silent screen comic.