(Frank Capra, US 1926, 76 min., 16mm)
Capra | Silent Tuesdays. Harry Langdon is one of the great silent comedians, but one who has been always difficult to classify; his persona of a childlike man is actually very complex and ambiguous, two elements that give his comedy an unusual edge and constant surprise. His considered reactions to mayhem and his thoughtful but ineffectual attempts to interact with the world around him (not to mention his genuine astonishment when he actually has to deploy his somewhat obscure maturity) make him a fascinating figure. One of the key people in developing Langdon’s character was Frank Capra, who worked with Langdon at the Mack Sennett studio. The Strong Man—Langdon’s second feature—is the first film to bear Capra’s name as director. In this hilarious and touching tale, Langdon tries to find a woman named Mary Brown, whom he knows only through letters he received as a soldier in the French battlefields. Capra’s interests are already becoming apparent in this film with how he handles personal relationships and the social instabilities of small-town life, while still turning out a rollicking comedy that made Langdon an instant celebrity.
Live piano by Philip C. Carli.
Special support provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.