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Tol'able David (1921)

 -  Drama  -  31 December 1921 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 1,351 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 6 critic

When three thuggish men are responsible for the death of his father and the crippling of his brother, young David must choose between supporting his family or risking his life and exacting vengeance.


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Title: Tol'able David (1921)

Tol'able David (1921) on IMDb 8.2/10

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Cast overview:
Gladys Hulette ...
Walter P. Lewis ...
Ernest Torrence ...
Luke Hatburn
Ralph Yearsley ...
Saul 'Little Buzzard' Hatburn
Forrest Robinson ...
Grandpa Hatburn
Laurence Eddinger ...
Sen. John Gault
Edmund Gurney ...
Hunter Kinemon
Warner Richmond ...
Allen Kinemon
Marion Abbott ...
Mother Kinemon
Patterson Dial ...
Rose Kinemon
Henry Hallam ...
The Doctor
Lassie ...
Lassie (a dog)


When three thuggish men are responsible for the death of his father and the crippling of his brother, young David must choose between supporting his family or risking his life and exacting vengeance.

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Release Date:

31 December 1921 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tol'able David  »

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| (DVD)

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

They had faces then and Barthelmess was one of the handsomest
1 September 2008 | by (Alexandria, VA) – See all my reviews

In Billy Wilder's "Sunset Boulevard," a forgotten silent-film actress, Norma Desmond, explained the appeal of silent stars: "we had faces then!" In the musical version of that classic, the lyric "…with one look I'm the girl (or boy) next door…" expanded on the visual powers of silent film actors. Each of those lines could have been written for handsome, charismatic Richard Barthelmess, the star of Henry King's "Tol'able David." Although his too-short pants vainly attempt to obscure the actor's maturity, Barthelmess manages to convince the audience that he is a boy at the edge of manhood. Through his dark eyes, body language, and facial expressions, Barthelmess literally becomes "the boy next door" without uttering a syllable.

"Tol'able David" may be too sentimental and occasionally too hokey for modern audiences, but, if viewed in the context of the post World War I period, the bucolic Americana story is engaging. Like the United States in the years leading up to the Great War, belligerent outsiders disrupt David's idyllic family life, and the young boy becomes a man in the fight to restore his world. The tale is simple, but universal. Enhanced by location filming in Virginia, "Tol'able David" provides a glimpse of country life in the early 20th century. However, produced in 1921, the film preceded the golden period of silent movies that was reached in the late 1920's, and the technical perfection and acting subtleties of that later period are lacking here. Although Ernest Torrence makes a formidable, frightening villain, neither his appearance nor his performance are subtle, and he owes more to the oft-parodied "grand style" of the early silents than to the nuanced acting that evolved later in the decade. However, Barthelmess and his leading lady, Gladys Hulette, perform admirably, even in a broad comic scene with a barrel that seems to have been taken from another movie.

Henry King keeps the story moving, although his camera did not achieve the fluidity that distinguishes later silents. A transitional film made between the innovative days of Griffith and the heights of Murnau, Vidor, and von Stroheim, "Tol'able David" remains entertaining and affectionate towards a vanished way of life and a lost style of film-making. If the viewer can transport him or herself back in time, a dazzling star and a film with genuine warmth and sentiment will immerse the audience in the days when "sentimental" was not a four-letter word.

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