johnlink ranks THE MILKY WAY (1936)

It’s been a hectic summer, to say the least. My DVR is filling up with a variety of movies, most of which I won’t get to. But this Harold Lloyd comedy about a milkman becoming a prizefighter had the kind of premise which gets me to run it. I’ve seen too little Lloyd, so I was really looking forward to this.


I watched THE MILKY WAY (1936) on 8.14.15. It was my first viewing of the film.

Burleigh Sullivan (Harold Lloyd) is a milk man who may not have a job much longer. He isn’t particularly good at his job, his boss doesn’t like him, and his horse is sick. One night, his sister (Helen Mack) is being pestered by a couple of drunk guys. A fight breaks out and one of those drunk guys gets knocked out. Turns out that guy was the middleweight champion of the world, Speed McFarland (William Gargan). The press picks up the story and soon Burleigh is being arm-twisted into becoming a boxer.

The only problem is, though, that he isn’t really a fighter. He is a self-proclaimed ‘excellent ducker’ and was only able to survive the aforementioned fight because he avoided getting hit and Speed’s own buddy punched him out. But Burleigh – in typical Lloyd fashion – is a bit oblivious. He enjoys becoming a celebrity and hams up his matches and public persona. He starts to alienate the girl he likes, Polly Pringle (Dorothy Wilson), who doesn’t like the man he has become.

All of this leads to a championship fight between Burleigh and Speed. Everyone soon realized that Burleigh didn’t win any of his fights squarely, and so there is a bunch of back and forth regarding wether or not this thing will actually happen, even if we know it will because of the nature of the movies.

There is some typically funny Lloyd hi jinx in THE MILKY WAY. Lloyd is likable and funny, even as his character becomes egocentric. Bits involving the boxers getting arrested trying to court Lloyd are very funny, as is Lloyd’s boxing training. The problem with the movie is that the script chooses to keep us away form any actual boxing until the final match. As a funny physical comedian, the draw of the movie seems to be getting to see Lloyd try to keep up in a boxing ring (much like the very funny scenes with Charlie Chaplin in CITY LIGHTS from five years prior). But THE MILKY WAY doesn’t give us much boxing at all. It’s really disappointing.

There are enough funny bits to make this watchable. The supporting cast, especially Mack and Wilson playing the two women in Burleigh’s life, really provide solid performances. There are several laugh out loud moments and the filming is creative, using plenty of editing and cinematography tricks of the time to keep us bouncing around. This just absolutely feels like a movie that leaves a lot of potential left behind.




FINAL SCORE: 5.25 out of 10

~ by johnlink00 on August 15, 2015.

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