The Milky Way
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Often considered Harold Lloyd's best showcase in a talkie, The Milky Way (1936) was based on the Broadway play and directed by comedy specialist Leo McCarey. Lloyd plays Buleigh Sullivan, a milquetoast milkman who becomes a boxer after it appears that he has knocked out a middleweight champion (William Gargan) in a street brawl. Adolphe Menjou plays the manager who comes up with the idea of promoting Buleigh as a real contender in a series of fixed fights, then having him lose a match against the champ. The unaware Buleigh soon begins to believe in his own powers, providing Lloyd with some classic comic moments.
The expert supporting cast includes Verree Teasdale and Lionel Stander, who was so funny in the role of the champ's stooge and sparring partner that he repeated his role in a remake of The Milky Way called The Kid From Brooklyn (1946), starring Danny Kaye in Lloyd's former role. When producer Samuel Goldwyn bought the rights for the remake, he had the original negative and almost all existing prints of The Milky Way destroyed. Fortunately, Harold Lloyd carefully preserved his own original nitrate release print of the film. This print was the basis for the new digital video transfer which now airs on TCM.
Before Lloyd stepped in as star, The Milky Way had been planned as a vehicle for Jack Oakie, with Edward Everett Horton in Menjou's role. Helen Mack replaced Sally Blane, and Dorothy Wilson stepped in for an ailing Ida Lupino. Anthony Quinn appears as an uncredited extra in the film. When McCarey was hospitalized during production, Norman Z. McLeod directed some scenes. For a scene in which Buleigh was to ride a white horse and no such animal could be located, the movie's make-up artists were obliged to apply bleach to a horse of a darker color.
Producer: E. Lloyd Sheldon, Adolph Zukor
Director: Leo McCarey, Norman Z. McLeod
Screenplay: Grover Jones, Frank Butler, Richard Connell, from play by Lynn Root and Harry Clork
Cinematography: Alfred Gilks
Original Music: Tom Satterfield, Victor Young (both uncredited)
Non-original music: Charles Bradshaw, John Leipold, Ralph Rainger
Art Direction: Hans Dreier, Bernard Herzbrun
Editing: LeRoy Stone
Principal Cast: Harold Lloyd (Buleigh Sullivan), Adolphe Menjou (Gabby Sloan), Verree Teasdale (Ann Westley), Helen Mack (Mae Sullivan), William Gargan (Speed McFarland), George Barbier (Wilbur Austin), Dorothy Wilson (Polly Pringle), Lionel Stander (Spider Schultz).
by Roger Fristoe