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The Strong Man

(silent 1926 b 75')

En: 5 Ed: 4

A timid soldier gets love letters from a woman and tries to find her after the war while he works with a strong man.

In Belgium in no-man's land Paul Bergot (Harry Langdon) fires a machine gun at a can, and a German soldier shoots at him. Paul uses a slingshot and onions to chase him away. Paul gets a love letter from Mary Brown, and the German grabs him.

After the armistice Paul works with the great Zandow (Arthur Thalasso), who goes to a vaudeville agent. Paul looks for Mary Brown on the street. To avoid a detective, Lili (Gertrude Astor) puts a roll of money in Paul's pocket and tries to retrieve it. Lili says she is Mary and takes him in a taxi to her apartment building. When he refuses to go in, she faints. A cop puts her in Paul's arms, and he manages to carry her upstairs. In her apartment she knocks him on the head and tries to take the money. He fights for his honor, and she picks up a knife. After trying to avoid her, he finally kisses her. She gets the money, and he goes out. In the hallway he learns of Brown's studio, where he sees a woman posing nude.

Zandow throws Paul in a truck, and they go to Cloverdale, which used to be a peaceful town. Now Parson Brown, known as Holy Joe (William V. Mong), warns Mike McDevitt (Robert McKim), who runs a music hall and the town with money, that the Lord will destroy him. Holy Joe leads a march of believers around the town for the seventh time, expecting a miracle like at Jericho.

Blind Mary Brown (Priscilla Bonner) tells children how a blind girl stopped writing to a soldier. On a bus Paul has a cold and takes medicine. He applies camphor and then cheese by mistake, discovering he can smell. The bus arrives, and Paul learns he can get water from Mary Brown. He tells her that he is the boy from Belgium and explains how he has been searching for her.

At the music hall the people are demanding to see Zandow, but he has passed out. So McDevitt tells Paul that he has to go on stage. Paul dances and pretends to lift weights. He starts a fight and escapes on the trapeze. A riot breaks out, and McDevitt shoots at Paul, who shoots the cannon and knocks McDevitt out the window. Paul fires cannonballs and knocks down the building. Holy Joe accepts the miracle and tells his people to drive out the money-changers. Cloverdale becomes peaceful once again. Paul is a cop and kisses Mary.

This farce plays upon the shy innocence of Paul amid the violence of war, with an aggressive female, and in a music hall facing a wild audience.

Copyright © 2006 by Sanderson Beck

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