Harry Shelby has been kept in knee pants for years by his overprotective parents, but the day finally comes when Harry is given his first pair of long pants. Almost immediately, he is ...
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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 »
Molly Kelly wants to marry a millionaire. When she runs into Andy Charles, heir to a restaurant fortune, she jumps at the chance and marries him. Andy's father if furious and disinherits ... See full summary »
Socially-conscious banker Thomas Dickson faces a crisis when his protégé is wrongly accused for robbing the bank, gossip of the robbery starts a bank run, and evidence suggests Dickson's wife had an affair...all in the same day.
Harry Shelby has been kept in knee pants for years by his overprotective parents, but the day finally comes when Harry is given his first pair of long pants. Almost immediately, he is expected to marry his childhood sweetheart Priscilla... but instead, Harry's first heady whiff of manhood has got him panting after Bebe, a "fast" woman from the big city. Mistakenly thinking that Bebe fancies him too, Harry risks everything to help her out when she lands in jail, only to end up in hot water himself. Through it all, sweet Priscilla waits for her man to come to his senses. Written by
Dan Navarro <email@example.com>
I have said in other reviews of Langdon that I am not a great admirer of Capra and think that Langdon's best work on the whole was done with Harry Edwards directing at Sennett in 1924-1925 before Capra joined the team as a gag-man.
Of the First National features, I think the best is Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, directed by Edwards. The Strong Man is a badly paced film that tries to place Langdon in a dramatic context that does not really fit his performance-style and for which the script is not sufficiently strong. Moreover the whole film is in doubtful taste (the blind daughter, the "pseudo-miracle" with which the film ends). While the inspiration is obviously Chaplin, Chaplin's elements of social commentary were much more lightly sketched and often irreverent and, although he too was inclined to be sentimental, he was never falsely and manipulatively so in the Capra manner.
This film is also in very doubtful taste (even Keaton was shocked by the idea of the baby-faced comedian trying to murder his wife) but not this time in the service of false sentimentality. What sets Long Pants apart (and is its redeeming feature) is that it is a black comedy, a relatively rare bird in the Hollywood skies at that time and in a black comedy bad taste works and the scene of the attempted murder is quite the best in the film - in truth it is the sole real interest of the film.
The slow pace is again a fault as in The Strong Man and the scenes that one reviewers considers the highlights - the bicycle stunts and the policeman-dummy - are exactly the one that I would point to as extremely drawn out and tedious (and not very funny in the first place).
So I rate neither of the Capra-directed films very highly (nor for that matter the later Sennett shorts with which Capra was involved) but this film has a real interest that The Strong Man lacked and reveals a dark side of Capra that he was usually careful to camouflage.
Langdon's career after Capra was a disaster but, like Keaton, he was never likely to have been a success in the era of the "talkies". Both men had coarse and ugly voices, which would not necessarily in itself have mattered (think of Eugene Palette), except that the voices were in both cases a complete mismatch with the silent screen-image of the artists. Chaplin had a weak, reedy little voice (he had enormous theatre experience but very little of it vocal) but it was a much better fit with the "little tramp" character, especially as it had evolved in the feature films. Langdon had the additional problem that an ageing baby face is not at all a pretty sight. Alas, nobody loves a fairy (or an elf who has turned into a gnome) when they are forty!
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