SPEED (1936)


(director: Edward L. Marin; screenwriters: Michael Fessler/story by Milton Krims & Larry Bachman; cinematographer: Lester White; editor: Ben Lewis; music: Edward Ward; cast: James Stewart (Terry Martin), Wendy Barrie (Jane Mitchell), Ralph Morgan (Mr. Dean), Una Merkel (Jo Sanderson), Weldon Heyburn (Frank Lawson), Patricia Wilder (Fanny), Walter Kingsford (Uncle Edward Emery); Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lucien Hubbard; MGM; 1936)

The mere presence of James Stewart elevates the B film to passable.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

MGM produced this low-budget action film. The mere presence of James Stewart elevates the B film to passable. Director Edward L. Marin(“Nocturne”/”Johnny Angel”/”Tall in the Saddle”) follows the formulaic blueprint for such films, and tacks on archive race car footage. It’s based on a so-so story by Milton Krims & Larry Bachman, and is expediently written by Michael Fessler.

The former race car driver Terry Martin (James Stewart) is the mechanic and chief test driver for the NY based Emery Motors, where he works in Los Angeles at the company’s testing facility. The cars are manufactured in Detroit. Terry’s loyal sidekick mechanic is the comical Gadget (Ted Healy).

The attractive Jane Mitchell (Wendy Barrie) comes aboard as the new head of publicity and attracts the love interest of the company’s chief engineer, Frank Lawson (Weldon Heyburn), and Terry. The ambitious test driver has spent the past year inventing a new carburetor, and the company agrees to test it after Jane gets company Vice President Dean (Ralph Morgan) to agree. But Terry is upset that the pencil-pusher engineer is partnered with him on his invention, not knowing that it was Jane’s idea. Terry’s inferiority complex about being a grease monkey keeps him away from Jane, even though she prefers him to the more sophisticated Frank.

Meanwhile the new office manager, Jo Sanderson (Una Merkel), who worked herself up the ladder from a stenographer position, pines for Frank. But he only considers her a dear friend, and goes full blast after Jane.

What no one but Mr. Dean knows is that Jane’s second name is Emery and her uncle (Walter Kingsford) is the head of the big company.

Terry gets his due when he tests his invention at the Indianapolis 500, at the Memorial Day race, and again at Muroc, on a dry lake. The pic wraps up with Terry, despite all the things that go wrong, getting his invention approved and winning the girl.

REVIEWED ON 5/30/2015 GRADE: B-   https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/