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Soldier Man (1926)

After the armistice, one U.S. soldier remains unaccounted for: he's wandering the fields of Bomania, hungry, thinking the war is still on. (He was in a German prison camp, escaping while ... See full summary »

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, (titles) (as A.H. Giebler) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview:
... The Soldier / King Strudel the 13th of Bomania
... The Soldier's Wife / The Queen of Bomania
... The Prime Minister
Frank Whitson ... General Von Snootzer
Yorke Sherwood ... American General
S.D. Wilcox ... Royal Guard (as SIlas D. Wilcox)
... Royal Philosopher (scenes deleted)
Andre Bailey
Consuelo Dawn ... (as Connie Dawn)
Muriel Montrose
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Storyline

After the armistice, one U.S. soldier remains unaccounted for: he's wandering the fields of Bomania, hungry, thinking the war is still on. (He was in a German prison camp, escaping while his captors celebrated the Great War's end.) Turns out, he's the spitting image of Bomania's King Strudel. The prime minister wants Strudel to sign a peace treaty ending civil war with a cousin. Bomania's General Von Snootzer wants the war to continue, so he contrives to derail the treaty. Strudel is a drunk, his queen hates him. Into the mix stumbles our dough boy. If he can pass for the king, maybe the treaty can continue. But what of the queen and her plans? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Comedy | Short

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1 May 1926 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Connections

Remade as Block-Heads (1938) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Worth fighting for
7 December 2009 | by See all my reviews

A lot has been made of the similarities between the film comedy characters of Harry Langdon and Stan Laurel. While both uniquely and individually wonderful, one can see a pretty clear lineage. "Soldier Man" starts with an opening gag premise that wouldn't work very well for almost any other characters -- Harry is a soldier from World War One who has not realized years later that it is over -- which would be repeated years later for Laurel in "Block-Heads," a feature Langdon would co- wrote.

"Soldier Man" goes in a very different direction than "Block-Heads" will, though. Instead of being discovered and reunited with Oliver Hardy at on old soldiers' home, we get a wonderful gag sequence in which a series of coincidences and confusions allow Harry to think he is still fighting the war -- and being fought back at. These gags, involving some ingenious and grotesque bits with a scarecrow and a complex visual joke that has to do with a blown-up co that becomes pre-butchered meat, make great use, of course, of Harry Langdon's signature slow, confused reactions, but here, in a rarer occurrence even in Langdon's own shorts, the comedy is not just in these between-the-lines reactions that make up his performance. His character has really been developed to complete fruition here and that means that gags are now being written not just for generic comedians or to give Harry a chance to do his thing, but custom-tailored to the way his character behaves. It all feels right and works well. This new development makes itself felt also in the very funny and in-character title cards that Harry is given throughout the film.

Another sign of this is the fact that this short, while its premise would have fit into the twenty minutes of a standard two-reel short, is given three in which to develop. The producers knew that so much of the comedy could come between the parts written in the script from Harry's still and slow expressions.

In the second part of the film we move to a old standard trope, in which Harry resembles exactly the country's alcoholic king; he plays the king in just a few shots but impressively projects a very convincingly different alcoholic despot. In this part of the comedy the "plot" elements remain almost totally separate from anything Harry does. They remain fairly unobtrusive (though still they seems a little unnecessary), which allows us to follow the pure comedy of Harry Langdon attempting to be a king.

Of course, he doesn't understand a thing about how to do it. In some ways making Harry Langdon have to play king is a perfect idea because the decisiveness and power that a king is supposed to project are the exact opposite of the complete ineffectualness and uncertainly that define his character. So we can sit back and watch Harry at his best, unable to take his concentration away from a bowl of fruit, interacting with a suit of army he thinks is alive, jumping with fright at a wig that falls off a man's head, ordering a man beheaded because he thinks he is supposed to and then becoming horrified when he realizes what beheading is, and more.

The ending is of a kind that is often used in films (I won't reveal it for those who haven't watched it yet), and it almost always feels like a complete cop-out. Here, though, it is topped by such a sweet gag twist that all is forgiven.

This is Harry at his purely funniest, in material that is clearly and happily designed just for him.


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