For Reel

Top Speed (1930)
December 1, 2014, 2:09 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Mervyn LeRoy
3.5 Stars
Top SpeedJoe E. Brown had rapidly become one of the most bankable stars at Warner Brothers in the early 1930s with a handful of musical comedies beginning with the 1929 color spectacle On with the Show. Top Speed, based on the hit Broadway musical released the previous year (the production that discovered a 17-year-old ingenue named Ginger Rogers), gave him one of his first starring vehicles. The plot concerns a pair of bond clerks (Brown and Jack Whiting) who pose as millionaires to impress a couple of rich women (Bernice Claire and Laura Lee). As expected of a Warner Brothers production of the era, it moves quickly and brims with snappy dialogue and racy material. Lee is a terrific match for Brown, playing his aggressive, over-eager romantic partner. They have a couple of amusing dance numbers in which Lee coaches the awkward, elastic Brown on how to appropriately move his legs. A climactic boat race feels like an afterthought, although it involves some hilarious exchanges between Brown and Frank McHugh, who was appearing in only his second ever film as–what else?–a humorous drunk.

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