Boxing Comedy Champs: Harold Lloyd in "The Milky Way"/The East Side Kids in "Kid Dynamite" product details page

Boxing Comedy Champs: Harold Lloyd in "The Milky Way"/The East Side Kids in "Kid Dynamite"

Boxing Comedy Champs: Harold Lloyd in "The Milky Way"/The East Side Kids in "Kid Dynamite"
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Directed by Leo McCarey and produced by and starring Harold Lloyd, The Milky Way is one of the most finely etched and precisely paced comedic romps ever to grace the screen, and a dazzling showcase not only for Lloyd, but also for the entire cast. Naturally, he is the star and the main spark plug for the film, but Veree Teasdale as Ann Westly, Gabby Sloan's smart, long-suffering fiancée, steals most of the scenes that she's in with a wisecracking gem of a performance, like Eve Arden with a sharper edge; Adolphe Menjou's Gabby Sloan is a manic whirlwind of neurotic tics and apoplexy-in-the-making; William Gargan and Lionel Stander as the middle-weight champion and his stooge make a boundlessly funny dumb-and-dumber duo (Stander was so good in the part of the stooge that he repeated it in the Danny Kaye remake The Kid From Brooklyn a decade later); finally, Helen Mack and Dorothy Wilson are refreshing and delightful as two young women who are smarter than most of the men around them and not afraid to show it. The screenplay, by Frank R. Butler, Richard Connell, and Grover Jones, is a marvel of verbal and physical humor in perfect balance, while McCarey pulls it all together seamlessly as a vehicle for Lloyd's eager-beaver, go-getter screen persona. The first time he saw it, this reviewer almost hurt himself laughing at the scene where Lloyd's Burleigh Sullivan explains how the champion came to be knocked out, and most of the movie is just a few notches off from that sequence. The Milky Way wasn't a huge success when it was originally released, but over six decades it has retained its comedic edge and its charm where many other celebrated comedies of the period have faded -- and today, along with The Freshman, Safety Last, and Mad Wednesday, it's essential viewing for anyone who wants to appreciate Harold Lloyd's work, and for any fan of classic screen comedy. Bruce Eder, All Movie Guide

Kid Dynamite is one of the most thematically complex of all the East Side Kids movies. In addition to the usual rough-house antics and verbal comedy, there are plot lines involving patriotism and a symbolic "sibling" rivalry between Leo Gorcey's and Bobby Jordan's characters, all interwoven very carefully. The key story arc hooks around Gorcey's character slow realization that it's time to outgrow his petty jealousies and rages and worry about bigger concerns, such as fighting World War II. The movie even gives a short refresher course to younger viewers on why the war was so important, and what the Allies were fighting for. Wallace W. Fox's direction is a little more subtle than usual in the East Side Kids films, as he has these various important elements to work with, which also allow him and Leo Gorcey to impart a nasty, more interesting side to the character of Muggs McGinniss. The whole cast of regulars stretch their acting muscles a bit here, in addition to getting a good workout (that is Bobby Jordan in the boxing ring scenes), and the result is one of the more entertaining and enduring movies of the series, and one laced with an interesting nostalgia and honest sentimentality over a subject that's forgotten today -- the interaction between Henry Hall's Mr. Gendig and Margaret Padula's Mrs. Lyons are a reminder that a lot of people who were older adults during the years 1942-45 had to cope with strong memories of the First World War. And, yet, even amid the movie's serious messages and topical focus, Kid Dynamite has more than its share of laughs, most of them provided by Morey Amsterdam, then an up-and-coming comic, who was hired to write special comedy material for the script (most of which ends up being spoken by Huntz Hall). Other highlights (besides the fighting) include a dance contest featuring singer Marion Miller and Mike Riley's Orchestra, run by political candidate Klinkhamer (Vince Barnett, who is very funny throughout the movie); Dudley Dickerson serious performance as Mr. Scruno, the father of Sammy "Sunshine" Morrison's Scruno; Minerva Urecal as a disapproving court judge; and Kay Mavis, soon to be Mrs. Leo Gorcey, in a delightful jitterbug sequence with Gorcey's Muggs McGinniss. Bruce Eder, All Movie Guide