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HISTORY

The print viewed for this entry was a video presentation by Thames Television, in which Gertrude Astor, known as "Gold Tooth" in contemporary reviews, is called "Lily," and Robert McKim, called "Roy McDevitt" in the same reviews, is called "Mike McDevitt." Modern sources indicate that even in contemporary prints there are discrepancies in these character names, and so "Gold Tooth" was also called "Lily of Broadway," and "Parson Brown" was also called "Holy Joe." Modern sources list two additional adaptors, Tay Garnett and James Langdon, and an additional titles writer, Reed Heustis. Modern sources also list cast members Brooks Benedict ("Bus passenger") and Tay Garnett.
       The Strong Man was the first of two films starring Harry Langdon that Frank Capra directed. Modern sources indicate Capra previously co-directed Langdon in Tramp, Tramp, Tramp (1926, see entry), for which he also co-wrote the story, but he did not receive credit in any capacity.
       The Strong Man was referred to by its working title, The Yes Man, in a 9 Mar 1926 FD item, which announced that Langdon would star in the film for First National Pictures, Inc. The 23 Apr 1926 Film Mercury listed Harry Langdon’s brother, James Langdon, as a “comedy constructor,” but he did not receive a writing credit for his contribution.
       The 24 Apr 1926 Exhibitors Herald, which erroneously credited Harry Langdon as director, reported that principal photography began that week at the United Artists studio lot in Hollywood, CA, since the east coast-based First National had yet to open its west coast studios in Burbank, CA. One month later, the 23 ...

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The print viewed for this entry was a video presentation by Thames Television, in which Gertrude Astor, known as "Gold Tooth" in contemporary reviews, is called "Lily," and Robert McKim, called "Roy McDevitt" in the same reviews, is called "Mike McDevitt." Modern sources indicate that even in contemporary prints there are discrepancies in these character names, and so "Gold Tooth" was also called "Lily of Broadway," and "Parson Brown" was also called "Holy Joe." Modern sources list two additional adaptors, Tay Garnett and James Langdon, and an additional titles writer, Reed Heustis. Modern sources also list cast members Brooks Benedict ("Bus passenger") and Tay Garnett.
       The Strong Man was the first of two films starring Harry Langdon that Frank Capra directed. Modern sources indicate Capra previously co-directed Langdon in Tramp, Tramp, Tramp (1926, see entry), for which he also co-wrote the story, but he did not receive credit in any capacity.
       The Strong Man was referred to by its working title, The Yes Man, in a 9 Mar 1926 FD item, which announced that Langdon would star in the film for First National Pictures, Inc. The 23 Apr 1926 Film Mercury listed Harry Langdon’s brother, James Langdon, as a “comedy constructor,” but he did not receive a writing credit for his contribution.
       The 24 Apr 1926 Exhibitors Herald, which erroneously credited Harry Langdon as director, reported that principal photography began that week at the United Artists studio lot in Hollywood, CA, since the east coast-based First National had yet to open its west coast studios in Burbank, CA. One month later, the 23 Jun 1926 Var announced that Priscilla Bonner had been cast as the female lead, and would soon begin filming. Production was expected to be completed in Jul 1926, with a theatrical release planned for Sep 1926.
       On 11 Jul 1926, FD announced the new title as The Strong Man. Just over one month later, the 16 Aug 1926 issue stated that filming was completed. The 22 Aug 1926 FD listed a 17 Sep 1926 release date. However, the picture opened the week of 5 Sep 1926 in New York City at the Mark Strand Theatre, according to the 8 Sep 1926 Var review. Both Var and the 12 Sep 1926 FD review praised the comedy, with FD noting that The Strong Man “delivers laugh upon laugh,” and deeming the film a “knockout.”
       According to modern sources, when the film was released in New York, First National placed a forty-foot tall neon sign over the marquis which showed Langdon lifting a barbell. The picture, which marked Capra’s first feature film directing credit, went on to become an enormous critical and financial success, as noted in contemporary news items and reviews.
       Modern sources state that "Zandow's" vaudeville act was based on the act of a real vaudeville star, Eugene Sandow. The gag in which Langdon holds "Gold Tooth" on his lap, scoots up the stairs backwards and then falls over a ladder was repeated in Capra's 1959 film A Hole in the Head (see entry).

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Exhibitors Herald
24 Apr 1926
p. 40
Exhibitors Herald
12 Jun 1926
p. 79
Film Daily
9 Mar 1926
p. 2
Film Daily
16 Apr 1926
p. 1
Film Daily
9 May 1926
p. 12
Film Daily
4 Jun 1926
p. 7
Film Daily
11 Jul 1926
p. 7
Film Daily
16 Aug 1926
p. 7
Film Daily
22 Aug 1926
p. 3
Film Daily
12 Sep1926
p. 6
Life
14 Oct 1926
p. 28
Motion Picture News
18 Sep 1926
p. 1101
Moving Picture World
15 May 1926
p. 237
Moving Picture World
4 Sep 1926
p. 21, 37
Moving Picture World
18 Sep 1926
p. 166
New York Times
7 Sep 1926
p. 44
New Yorker
18 Sep 1926
pp. 50-51
Photoplay
Nov 1926
p. 53
The Film Mercury
23 Apr 1926
p. 5
Variety
23 Jun 1926
p. 4
Variety
8 Sep 1926
p. 16
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCER
Richard A. Rowland
Pres
WRITERS
Story and titles
Titles
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Glenn Kershner
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
PRODUCTION MISC
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Yes Man
Release Date:
19 September 1926
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 5 Sep 1926
Production Date:
early May--mid Aug 1926
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
First National Pictures, Inc.
31 August 1926
LP23063
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
75
Length(in feet):
6,882
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Paul Bergot, a Belgian soldier during World War I, drives away a German soldier with his slingshot, then reads the latest letter from his pen pal, Mary Brown, an American with whom Paul has fallen in love, even though they have never met. While he is reading, Paul is captured by the same German soldier, who, after the Armistice, takes Paul along when he emigrates to America to become Zandow the Great, a vaudeville strong man. After their arrival, Paul searches for Mary by comparing a poor photograph of her with women he passes on the street. He is spotted by "Gold Tooth," who slips some stolen money into Paul's coat to elude the detective following her. The detective is fooled, but when Gold Tooth attempts to retrieve the money, she discovers that it has slipped into the lining of Paul's coat. She then tells him that she is the "Little Mary" for whom he is looking, and although he is dismayed by her worldly behavior, she lures him to her apartment building. Outside the building, however, Paul attempts to flee, and so "Gold Tooth" pretends to faint, after which Paul gets her up a stairway by holding her on his lap and scooting up the stairs one at a time, backwards. In her apartment, "Gold Tooth" chases Paul, trying to get the money, while he assumes that she is burning with passion for him. She gets the money, and Paul leaves to rejoin Zandow, who has been engaged to perform in Cloverdale. Paul enrages his fellow bus passengers with his ministrations to his cold, but eventually he and Zandow arrive ...

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Paul Bergot, a Belgian soldier during World War I, drives away a German soldier with his slingshot, then reads the latest letter from his pen pal, Mary Brown, an American with whom Paul has fallen in love, even though they have never met. While he is reading, Paul is captured by the same German soldier, who, after the Armistice, takes Paul along when he emigrates to America to become Zandow the Great, a vaudeville strong man. After their arrival, Paul searches for Mary by comparing a poor photograph of her with women he passes on the street. He is spotted by "Gold Tooth," who slips some stolen money into Paul's coat to elude the detective following her. The detective is fooled, but when Gold Tooth attempts to retrieve the money, she discovers that it has slipped into the lining of Paul's coat. She then tells him that she is the "Little Mary" for whom he is looking, and although he is dismayed by her worldly behavior, she lures him to her apartment building. Outside the building, however, Paul attempts to flee, and so "Gold Tooth" pretends to faint, after which Paul gets her up a stairway by holding her on his lap and scooting up the stairs one at a time, backwards. In her apartment, "Gold Tooth" chases Paul, trying to get the money, while he assumes that she is burning with passion for him. She gets the money, and Paul leaves to rejoin Zandow, who has been engaged to perform in Cloverdale. Paul enrages his fellow bus passengers with his ministrations to his cold, but eventually he and Zandow arrive in Cloverdale, where Mary's father, Parson Brown, is leading the fight against Roy McDevitt, a bootlegger and owner of the Palace Music Hall. Paul soon learns that Mary is in Cloverdale and presents himself to her, after which he is stunned by her confession that she is blind. Despite his shock, the couple are soon holding hands and sharing jokes. Zandow, meanwhile, has become drunk and cannot perform, so in order to prevent the audience from rioting, McDevitt dresses Paul in Zandow's costume and thrusts him onto the stage. Paul entertains the crowd for a while, but when one of the audience members makes a rude reference to Mary, Paul begins a fight which soon escalates beyond his control. Paul takes refuge on the trapeze onto which Zandow was to be shot from a cannon, grabs a stage backdrop and covers the crowd with it. When they free themselves, he shoots at them with the cannon, and after many shots, one of which propels McDevitt into a garbage can, the Palace is destroyed. Soon after, Cloverdale has returned to its former peaceful state, and Paul, now a police officer, begins to walk his beat. Mary asks to come with him, and when she cries after his refusal, Paul relents and takes her along. He trips and she helps him up, after which they continue, arm in arm.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.