Sog.: dalla pièce omonima di Lynn Root e Harry Clork. Scen: Grover Jones, Richard Connell, Frank Butler. F.: Alfred Gilks. M.: LeRoy Stone. Scgf.: Hans Dreier, Bernard Herzburn. Int.: Harold Lloyd (Burleigh Sullivan), Adolphe Menjou (Gabby Sloan), Verree Teasdale (Ann Westley), Helen Mack (Mae Sullivan), William Gargan (Speed McFarland), Lionel Stander (Spider Schultz), George Barbier (Wilbur Austin), Dorothy Wilson (Polly Pringle), Marjorie Gateson (Mrs. E. Winthrop Le Moyne), Charles Lane (Willard). Prod.: Paramount Pictures · 35mm. Bn.
The Milky Way marks the teaming of two class valedictorians from the Hal Roach Studio – Harold Lloyd, who helped create the studio and its approach to film comedy in the teens, and McCarey, who refined the studio’s style in the 1920s. Lloyd had left the Roach organization in 1923, and with his own Harold Lloyd Corporation made some of the best and biggest money-making comedies of the 1920s such as The Freshman (1925) and The Kid Brother (1927). Although having made a good transition to sound, each of his talking features made less money than the one before it. By 1935 it was harder to raise the funds for his own productions so Lloyd jumped at the chance for Paramount to foot the bill for a picture, with fifty percent of the profits going to the Harold Lloyd Corporation, and McCarey specified as director. At the moment McCarey was the director of choice for Hollywood comics, having recently guided the Marx Brothers, Eddie Cantor, Mae West, and W.C. Fields through expert paces. McCarey and Lloyd were joined by fellow silent comedy veterans Frank Butler and Grover Jones, who wrote the script with Richard Connell, and the resulting film is a perfect blend of silent physical comedy with sound screwball comedy dialogue and characters.
Lloyd’s go-getting persona was popular and current in the roaring twenties but by 1936, in the middle of the Great Depression, it was an anachronism, and that’s how McCarey handles him in The Milky Way – he’s an old-fashioned innocent who’s a fish out of water with the wise-cracking sharpies and situations he finds himself in. Lloyd is supported in the deftly choreographed verbal and physical tit for tat sequences by a crackerjack cast whose stand-outs include Adolph Menjou, Verree Teasdale, Marjorie Gateson, as society matron Mrs. E. Winthrop Le Moyne who learns the fine art of ducking from Harold, and Lionel Stander, who played the same exact role again in Samuel Goldwyn’s 1946 Danny Kaye remake The Kid from Brooklyn. Taking full advantage of his boxing background for atmosphere and gags, McCarey even manages to re-work one of his favorite mix-up in hats routines for Lloyd and Stander to do with boxing gloves. Finally, in addition to his usual strong hand behind the camera, McCarey made an important on screen contribution to this picture. According to Harold Lloyd the director provided the whinnying of the baby horse during shooting, and did it so convincingly and so on point in the timing that it was left in the finished film.