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Speedway (1929)
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Speedway (1928)

William Haines' last silent film was Speedway (1929), a racing car drama with some synchronized sound effects. Haines plays a racecar mechanic who woos Anita Page and eventually gets the chance to drive a racecar himself in the Indianapolis 500. The film includes some exciting location footage shot at the real Indy 500.

Haines was a famous star of the silent screen and early talkie period who was near the peak of his commercial popularity here; soon he would be named the #1 male box-office draw in the country. Haines was getting bored with acting, however, and was already starting to transition to a new career as an interior decorator, a field in which he would find lasting success and a fame equal to that of his stardom. He went on to decorate homes of many top Hollywood figures including numerous movie stars. Some have attributed his retirement from acting in 1934 to the fact that he was homosexual and thus unable to continue working, but the fact is he had already started his new career in the years prior, and many other gay actors -- closeted or not -- continued to work in the industry.

Anita Page was a frequent Haines co-star and great friend. They starred in five features together, not counting The Hollywood Revue of 1929, in which they play themselves. Director Harry Beaumont was a real Hollywood veteran who would go on to amass a total of 99 directorial credits of shorts and features dating back to 1914.

Variety described Speedway as "about 80% race track." The New York Times called it "a breezy piece of nonsense...exciting.... Impertinence and beauty clash and cuddle."

Director: Harry Beaumont
Screenplay: Alfred Block, Ann Price (adaptation); Byron Morgan (scenario); Joseph Farnham (titles); Byron Morgan (story)
Cinematography: Henry Sharp
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Music: William Axt (uncredited)
Film Editing: George Hively
Cast: William Haines (Bill Whipple), Anita Page (Patricia 'Pat' Bonner), Ernest Torrence (Jim MacDonald), Karl Dane (Dugan), John Miljan (Lee Renny), Eugenie Besserer (Mrs. MacDonald), Polly Moran (Waitress).

by Jeremy Arnold



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