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The Strong Man (1926)

A meek Belgian soldier (Harry Langdon) fighting in World War I receives penpal letters and a photo from "Mary Brown", an American girl he has never met. He becomes infatuated with her by ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
...
Mary Brown
...
'Lily' of Broadway
...
'Holy Joe'
...
'Mike' McDevitt
Arthur Thalasso ...
'Zandow the Great'
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Storyline

A meek Belgian soldier (Harry Langdon) fighting in World War I receives penpal letters and a photo from "Mary Brown", an American girl he has never met. He becomes infatuated with her by long distance. After the war, the young Belgian journeys to America as assistant to a theatrical "strong man", Zandow the Great (Arthur Thalasso). While in America, he searches for Mary Brown... and he finds her, just as word comes that Zandow is incapacitated and the little nebbish must go on stage in his place. Written by Dan Navarro <daneldorado@yahoo.com>

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19 September 1926 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Atleta à Força  »

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1.33 : 1
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Strong film!
3 December 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"The Strong Man" is the second feature film that Harry Langdon starred in for his own company after a successful series of short subjects for Mack Sennett, and everything seems together perfectly. It's an extremely funny film that tailored just to his comic strengths, and builds to several moments that he makes legitimately poignant.

Harry, in the bewildered, vulnerable, and naive child-man character that he has perfected, is a veteran of the Great War who has traveled to America to search for the wartime penpal who years ago declared her love for him in a letter. We all admire and sympathize with this quixotic quest, though it forces us to admit that we are cynical enough not to think, as Harry does, that it would really work.

"The Strong Man" takes this simple unifying idea and builds itself into a series of comic vignettes around it, which can be as heterogeneous as necessary since they're leading to a certain point, so Harry becomes the victim of fate, falling prey to a charlatan Vaudevillian whom he must assist, gangsters, and more. Making it so the film has a simple idea it is getting to but can digress as much as necessary along the way allows Harry Langdon best style of comedy, in which as much humor comes from his slow reactions, befuddlement over how to act on his surroundings, and blind incomprehension as it does from the gags themselves. The movie zips along at a great pace, but we still have room for numerous set-pieces that are little pieces of comic brilliance as Harry builds hilarious sequences out of waiting on a street corner for the one girl in the country he wants to find to walk by, irritating his fellow passengers on a bus by applying a bagful of cold remedies while traveling, or trying desperately to improvise a strong-man act on a stage before a hard-to-please crowd.

There has been debate about how good Frank Capra really was for Harry Langdon's career, but it's clear that he really was an extremely talented director if nothing else, and in this, his first time behind the camera, he shows that. All the shots show us just what they need to show us when, and the comedy is timed with a music precision that brings out all the possible laughs speaking of music, the original musical score, assembled by Langdon himself, is very pleasant listening and very much enhances the film; he was a many-talented man).

There is some dark or risqué humor (including Harry running in stark terror when confronted with the sight of a naked woman), but in the final equation this is a sweet film where things go right and Harry gets the girl (before a very charming final shot). More than anything it's Langdon's own performance, with the structure of the film supporting him, that makes this such a success.


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