Released March 5, 1917, Speed is a one-reel Black Diamond Comedy filmed and produced by the United States Motion Picture Corporation (USMPC) in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The film was distributed by Paramount Pictures.
An advertisement for the film that appeared in the March 31, 1917 issue of The Moving Picture World says the film “is the story of a typist with one thought per week” … “who is increased to two by aid of a speed powder manufactured in self defense by a long-suffering inventor” … “She takes the powder and the race starts.”
As of the writing of this article (October 22, 2012) no prints of this film are known to survive. If you have any information about the film, please contact us.
The USMPC received a copyright for this film (#10467) on March 28, 1917. In the copyright information, the USMPC included the following synopsis, which is here digitized by King’s College student Robert Vornlocker:
A Black Diamond Comedy in one reel by
The United States Motion Picture Corporation, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Susie Speed, who always travels in “low gear” looses [sic] the job she has in a lawyer’s office and, attracted by the display of food in a restaurant, she applies for a job as waitress. The manager is badly in need of help and hires her at once. Her slowness nearly drives the manager crazy and attracts the attention of Herr Tonik, a scientist, who is taking his lunch there. A “chappie” enters and sits at Sue’s table without removing his high hat. After several attempts to remove it, Sue finally places it in his seat as he is reaching for the bill of fare, and he sits on it. She then throws it through the service window to the kitchen where it lands on a tray and Maggie, another waitress, serves it to Herr Tonik. He tries to eat it, thinking it a steak, and on discovering his mistake, angrily leaves. Sue and Maggie start an argument which ends in a fight. The manager takes a hand and after general “rough-house” Susie is thrown out.
Ambling down the street, Sue sees a sign, “Stenographer wanted”, at the “Chemical Research Laboratory” and applies for the job. Herr Tonik, busy with his [experiments], engages her at once and gives her some letters to write […] dwaddles over her typing, he recognizes […] thinks her the “slowest girl on [Earth]” and […] her up. His experiments evolve “speed […]” dog. After one dose of the powder, […] jumps […] story window, climbs a tree, sits in the branches an[…].
Satisfied that the powder is a success, Herr Tonik now gives some [to] Sue in a box of candy. She speeds up at once and fairly burns up […]. Putting up a bag of the powder, Tonik dispatches Sue […] chemical factory with it in his car. Failing to start the […], Sue gives it some of the powder, whereupon it goes so [fast that] she looses [sic] control and runs into a wooden Indian in front of a […] stand, knocking him off of his pedestal. Frightened at what she has done, Sue gives the Indian some of the powder and he comes to life and threatens to take hers. She escapes on a wooden horse which she brings to life in the same way and finally reaches the factory.
The factory manager refuses to believe that the powder is as wonderful as Sue says and she proceeds to prove it to him. She throws a pinch of it down into the street and the traffic begins to move like mad. She blows some toward the river and the boats go crazy. A ferry boat loops the loop and dives into its slip. The draw-bridge opens and shuts in a flash as boats and trains dash by. All this greatly tickles the office boy. He wants to see some real action and throws the whole bag out of the window. Sue escapes as the factory begins to rock and dashes for the laboratory as the powder starts a cyclone which whirls across the city, tearing up trees and houses and destroying everything in its path.
Sue reaches the laboratory just one jump ahead of the cyclone and tells Herr Tonik what she has done. In the midst of this the office begins to whirl with the force of the cyclone and Sue wakes up as Herr Tonik whirls her in her chair and calls her down for sleeping on the job.
The story was written by James O. Walsh, Horace G. Plimpton, Jr., William Louis, Rex Taylor, all citizens of the United States of America and all in the employ of the United States Motion Picture Company.
The foregoing story, “Speed”, was written and worked out by the following persons all citizens of the United States of America and all in the employ of the United States Motion Picture Corporation. James O. Walsh, Rex Taylor, Horace G. Plimpton, Jr., William Louis, Russell Taylor of Wilkes-Barre, Pa.