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The Speed Spook 1924
Description: An auto racer driving through a tiny city finds himself tangled up in a local political controversy, an election and a mystery that surrounds a supposedly "haunted" vehicle that speeds through city with no driver and disappears before anyone can catch it.
Released: 30 Aug 1924 Director: Charles Hines Writers: William Wallace Cook (story), Ray Harris, Ralph Spence (titles) Actors: Johnny Hines, Faire Binney, Edmund Breese, Warner Richmond Genres: Comedy
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The Speed Spook Reviews:

What makes modern movie buffs value hard-to-come-by silent movies over others? Archaeologists do the same. They dig up stuff thrown in the trash ages ago and declare them ancient treasures. This might be the situation with "The Speed Spook", a slap-dash conglomeration of plots with some intended and unintentional humor tossed in.It was included in the movie festival I attended and I wondered if it was included because it was valuable or just because it was old. There's not much plot to follow. A Race vehicle driver is on tour and becomes mixed up in local politics and somehow feels a driverless vehicle would be an attention-getting device during an election, and would place him in his fresh girlfriend's nice graces.... oh, who cares. Suffice it to tell it is alternately confusing and funny, but mostly the former.Johnny Hines is funny and has a winning smile. Warner Richmond, 30's and 40's Western heavy, is the massive here and adds substance to the proceedings. Long storyline short, if anyone out there is planning a movie festival you might wish to look elsewhere for a tool filler. This movie was shown in 16MM which is apparently the only method it is available. As previously stated, just because it is old doesn't create it valuable.


Johnny Hines was dealt with briefly in Walter Kerr's necessary reference work 'The Silent Clowns'. His inclusion in that ebook is justified, but a brief mention is all he deserves. Hines was a third-string comedian in the nice days of silent comedy. He tended to enjoy brash go-getters in the Harold Lloyd mould ... but Lloyd was distinguished by his hornrimmed eyeglasses, whereas Johnny Hines's only distinguishing trait was a slightly Oriental cast to his facial features. Hines's movies were brisk and funny, but he never did anything that wasn't done better by Harold Lloyd, Wallace Reid, Raymond Griffith or few another comedians of this period.Many of Hines's movies were directed by his brother Charles, an untalented cheat who would never have become a director if not for the family relationship. Most of their collaborations consisted of arbitrary gag sequences, hung on a thin premise and strung out to detail length. 'The Speed Spook' is slightly better than their typical output ... due to an unusual premise, a plot that was more linear than usual for a Hines film, and some peppy dialogue scripted by veteran title-card writer Ralph Spence.Johnny plays 'Blue Streak' Billings, an auto racer who breezes through the city of Westwood, where the local sheriff is standing for re-election. His enemy is shifty politician Hiram Smith. Meanwhile, the city seems to be haunted (in Scooby-Doo fashion) by a weird grey vehicle with a white squiggle on its flank. What's so weird about this car? Well, it has no driver. It races through city at unlawful speeds, turns corners sharply, and disappears abruptly in broad daylight. Where does it go? Where does it come from? How does it manoeuvre with no driver? The townspeople are demanding that Sheriff West solve the mystery.SPOILERS COMING, BUT NOT SPOILING MUCH. Inevitably, Johnny gets involved. Inevitably, the sheriff has a pretty daughter ... played by bland unattractive oddly-named untalented Faire Binney. Much of this film is extremely predictable. What keeps us watching is our eagerness to learn how the vehicle (the 'speed spook') is controlled, and who's controlling it, and why. The eventual answers are unconvincing and disappointing. If you've read 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow', you'll watch this film with a sense of deja vu.I told that 'The Speed Spook' is one of Johnny Hines's better films, but that's not telling much. I'll rate this forgettable film 5 out of 10.



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