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Money for Speed (1933)


Main image of Money for Speed (1933)
35mm, black and white, 74 mins
DirectorBernard Vorhaus
Production CompanyHall Mark Films
StoryBernard Vorhaus
AdaptationVera R. Allinson
EditorDavid Lean

Cast: Ida Lupino (Jane); Cyril Mclaglen (Bill); John Loder (Mitch); Moore Marriott (Shorty); Marie Ault (Ma); David Lean (Reporter (uncredited))

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A tale of love and rivalry set in the world of 1930s motorcycle speedway riders.

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Money For Speed (d. Bernard Vorhaus, 1933) was one of the first films edited by the young David Lean, who at that time was cutting stories for Movietone, the first British sound newsreel. It was Lean's ability to make actuality footage dynamic and exiting that led director Bernard Vorhaus to pick him. When Vorhaus first came to Britain on holiday, he couldn't afford to hire a car so he got a motorbike instead, quickly learning how to ride it. The bike soon broke, but he remained an enthusiast and when he made his British feature film debut, he set it in the world of motorcycle speedway riders. To try and interest producers, he used his own money to shoot real motorcycle dirt-track racing. The film was a reasonable success and was even released in America (re-titled Daredevils of the Earth).

Aided by a charming early performance by Ida Lupino (who was only 15 at the time), the film still impresses with Lean's audaciously fast cutting and the successful integration of studio-shot material and spectacularly filmed real-life racing footage. It was Lean who, fifty years later, was largely responsible for kick-starting the renewed interest in Vorhaus' career. In 1985 Kevin Brownlow and Jo Wright were interviewing Lean, and asked him which directors had been an early influence on him. He immediately named Vorhaus, describing him as: "Highly inventive, with a real love for film and as clever as a wagonload of monkeys".

In 1992, Money for Speed was included in the BFI's Missing Believed Lost project, a list of 100 lost British feature films that it was hoped could somehow be recovered. Eventually two prints were found, one dubbed into French and the other with German subtitles. Lean can be seen playing a reporter in the commentary box in the race scenes.

Sergio Angelini

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Video Clips
1. Racing triumph (2:19)
2. The fight (0:58)
3. Racing disaster (2:49)
4. The stunt (2:54)
Last Journey, The (1935)
Topical Budget 864-2: A Petrol Push (1928)
Topical Budget 933-1: Motorists Make Merry (1929)
Lean, David (1908-1991)
Vorhaus, Bernard (1904-2000)
Lost Then Found