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on October 30, 2016
I first saw some scenes from this touching, funny, entertaining silent film in Vincent Price's film, The Thriller. I liked those scenes so much that I decided to buy the movie and I wasn't disappointed. It's a little difficult at first to get used to silent movies, but I like this one very much. It has something for everyone in it: scenes to make you laugh, scenes that make you want to cry, scenes that are thrilling and exciting and scenes that are rather touching. I'm totally satisfied with my purchase. The film is very clear to see throughout and whoever wrote the story did a great job. I was shocked that back in those days, they'd have a movie with a dirty old man trying to have his way with a teenaged girl, but that's part of this story. The good guys versus bad guys scenario is also part of the movie. I love it that the movie is about a family who struggles through life working together and who get through the good and bad times by supporting and loving each other, no matter what.
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on April 19, 2009
Tol'able David is a very unique movie from the 1920s that was the most popular movie of 1921 according to PhotoPlay Magazine. It was one of the very first movies to be filmed on location. I am looking forward to an eventual trip to go see where this was filmed in Virginia.

Tol'able David is a coming of age story from the silent era set in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia and Kentucky. David's goal in life is to drive the mail and passenger wagon into town just like his older brother. This is in addition to his love for a certain young lady. The story is entertaining, and the acting job that Richard Barthelmess turns is really good -- just be ready for some typical silent-era acting.

The DVD's quality is quite good. There are still a significant number of scratches, but nothing that makes the movie unwatchable. In fact, this is one of the better quality DVDs I have seen of movies from the era. I recommend this movie and the Image DVD.
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on March 12, 2001
Watching this film is an amazing experience -- something like a great mixture of looking through the personal scrapbook of someone from a bygone era, hearing a wonderful legend retold, and feeling your own visceral emotions fired with electricity.
In making the film, the characterizations and plot were designed in such a way that they are familiar but also unique. The story defies some of what have come to be conventions (stereotypes) for supporting roles. And, it betrays what have always been simpler expectations for a story with a happy ending. While there is sorrow and loss in modern film and earlier film, here they are portrayed without the often contingent silver-linings. Bad things happen in this film...and we are not given the immediate sense that all will be right in the end.
The title role is filled admirably by Richard Barthelmess. He did fine work here -- no wonder it led to his making as a star. But for me, the film was made by the principal heavy -- played by Ernest Torrence. What a creep he managed to portray -- a villain with a completely perverted moral sense. And Torrence held nothing back in his postures and expressions. He had this character nailed. A stunning performance.
Director Henry King did marvelous work with this villain and all of the film's elements. Portraying an idyllic rural atmosphere which is soon troubled by the arrival of lawlessness (Torrence and two other actors who play the nefarious Hatburn family), he demonstrates an ability to frame a scene with great visual appeal. He also manages to be economical in a sense -- one camera angle captures the majority of a scene's action and this is supplemented by occasional close-up reaction shots. His camera positioning is expert in this. We are given the best angle -- not several lesser angles from which to view.
I could not leave out mention of the charming Gladys Hulette who played the sweet romantic lead in this film. As the young girl, Esther, who is a neighbor to David and his family, she gave an incomparable performance. This role called for her to do much more than bat her eyelashes at the camera and she accomplished it with skill.
So, yes, this film does end happily...but I'll say no more.
It is the sort of film which should be appreciated as something other than a relic from the cinema's past. It is a postcard from an earlier day -- the message isn't as simple as "wish you were here" though. It has much more to tell us than that!
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on June 13, 2014
We have to watch this movie because this is our assigment. Not many old movie that I enjoy that much. But Tol'able David is one of the movie I enjoy because of its story. Our fimmakers of silent movie keeps amazing me by their work. This is a good movie.
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on September 14, 2016
One of the best silent films of all time.
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on July 14, 2015
One of the unsung greats of the silent screen. Richard Barthelmess and Earnest Torrence create two of the leading rolls in this gem dealing with life in rural America at the turn of the 20th century. Not surprising that Tol'able David has just been added to the Library of Congress list of films to be preserved as representing what is important in American life at a bygone day. When you view this film for the first time you'll wonder where it had been stashed for too many years. Buy Watch and Enjoy what is missing in so many current Hollywood offerings.
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on October 26, 2014
A very solid movie! This one will have you cheering at the end! Young David Kinemon (Richard Barthelmess) is at that age when he is a boy no longer yet still is not a man. He lives in pastoral Greenstream safely hidden behind three mountain ranges. Life is wonderful and David idolizes his older brother Allan (Warner Richmond) who drives the mail hack.

Some escaped convicts hole up on the next farm and leave David’s brother, whose wife just gave birth, a bedridden cripple. His father (Edmund Gurney) seeking revenge dies of a heart attack. The family which now faces poverty. David must step up and defend the family’s honor. In the most touching sequence Mrs. Kinemon (Marion Abbott) persuades David to let go of his anger and tend to the family as that burden is now his.

How will this tragedy affect David’s relationship with sweetheart Gladys (Esther Hulette) who is related to the convicts? What more can he face? David does get his chance to prove himself when he meets up with the convicts. He will no longer be “tol’able” but a man.

This 1921 feature is 94 minutes long and a 14 minute interview with director Henry King (Twelve O’clock High) is included. Four pages of detailed notes are included on the fold out snap case. Barthelmess and Hulette did a fine job and Ernest Torrance was a great bad guy. Film quality and Robert Israel’s music score are fine. I highly recommend this one!
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on February 22, 2001
Tol'able David is one of the finest silent films which I have seen. It seems more realistic than many silents. This is partly because of the location shooting, partly because the story is neither overly melodramatic nor comic. Barthelmess as the David character gives a wonderful performance while Torrance as the Goliath character is only just a little over the top in his villainy. He was perhaps more suited to the comic monster type of his later Captain Hook. The real revelation though, is Hulette. She is almost completely forgotten now, but clearly had great talent. Her performance is realistic and charming. She is quite simply adorable. The print on this DVD has been formed from separate sources. Thus it looks slightly different from scene to scene. There is some damage, but it rarely detracts. It is however, slightly distracting to see variations in the tinting. It is inconsistent to have one green scene when the rest of the movie uses greys and browns. One of the best features of this DVD is the music, which is a series of wonderful folksy tunes which fit in so well with the action that even David's harmonica playing is included. As an added bonus the DVD includes an interesting interview with director Henry King and some useful, extensive sleeve notes. Tol'able David is not as well known as many silent films, but really it ought to be considered as among the very best.
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on May 19, 2000
Widely considered one of the finest early U.S. action films. Under Harry King's stellar direction, it quickly and quietly becomes a mesmorizing film; it's like watching an antique photo album/scrapbook come to life! David's older brother is killed by the notorious Hatburns, and ironically, the girl he loves is one herself! As the honest, non-violent postal worker, David shows everyone he's no coward, and everything comes out in the wash at the end. I just watched this little flick at the home of my video store-owner friend and I was impressed by this essentially timeless slice of rural Americana which was directed by Henry King (long considered his masterwork). The film contains one of the greatest fight scenes recorded on film, and it's nothing short of revelation watching Torrence as Luke Hatburn, who delivers perhaps the greatest interpretation of villainy in the history of the cinema!
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on March 12, 2008
This 1921 coming-of-age melodrama is set in a provincial small town in West Virginia, home of the Kinemons and the neighboring family the Hatburns. The hero of the story, David Kinemon (Richard Barthelmess), knows he's no longer a little boy, yet no one around him, not even his love interest, Esther Hatburn, seems to understand that. No matter what he says or does to try to prove that he's becoming a man, growing up, becoming more mature, they still think of him and treat him as a kid. Even when his older brother Allen's wife Rose gives birth to a son, making David no longer the family baby, his mother still insists that he'll always be her baby. His one big ambition, to drive the mail wagon, is continually denied because his father and brother don't think he's old or responsible enough yet to do it.

Trouble invades this small farming town when some cousins of Grandfather Hatburn show up and make themselves at home on the Hatburn farm to avoid the police looking for them. Grandfather Hatburn hates the idea of these three escaped felons living in his house and acting like they own the place, as does Esther, but they're afraid of what might happen if they tried to throw them out or contacted the authorities. The Hatburn cousins make trouble for the other people in town too, particularly the Kinemons. Things get so bad that David's family has to leave town. Finally, he's given a chance to prove himself by driving the mail wagon, but that task soon turns into a much more serious contest of courage and maturity when he finds himself dealing with the evil Hatburn cousins again.

Overall, I found this a charming coming-of-age film, although I don't have any nostalgic or sentimental feelings towards smalltown provincial America of yore. The core theme, of a young man proving himself a capable mature brave adult, is the most important thing, and not the particular time and place where the story is set. The melodrama can also be a bit over the top (particularly a certain sequence of events which happen one after the other), although I must admit that prior to this pivotal dramatic turning-point, I found the film a bit slow-moving, spending so much time establishing the characters and setting instead of just geting down to the action. I was also bothered by how much violence there is, so much bloodlust, although at least by today's standards, the violence seems rather mild, and it fits in with the plot instead of characters just doing mean violent things to one another for their own sake. Looking past some of these flaws, it is a surprisingly charming and moving story that anyone could relate to.
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