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Context Film / TolableDavid

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1[[quoteright:315:]]˛˛''Tol'able David'' is a 1921 silent film directed by Henry King, based on a short story by Joseph Hergesheimer. Richard Barthelmess stars as David Kinemon, a teenaged boy in the bucolic rural town of Greenstream, Virginia, who lives with his parents and his older brother Allan. David longs to prove himself as a man, but his family still looks at him as a boy, and only "tol'able" (tolerable). David courts pretty Esther Hatburn, who lives on the farm next door, but she too sees him only as "tol'able". Allan won't let David help with the family business--driving the mail cart around the area--and when Allan's wife has a baby, David is judged too young to have a celebratory cigar.˛˛Things turn quite a bit darker when three criminal Hatburn cousins flee across the state line into Greenstream and commandeer the family farm where Esther and her grandfather live. Grandpa Hatburn is too scared to do anything about his criminal cousins, and nobody else does anything until Luke Hatburn, the most unhinged of the three hoodlums, kills David's dog. An outraged Allan vows revenge, which is short-circuited when Luke throws a large rock that hits Allan in the back, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Things get even worse when Pa Kinemon suffers a fatal heart attack from the stress. The situation further deteriorates for David, until he has a final confrontation with the Hatburn clan.˛˛''Tol'able David'' is considered one of the great works of American silent film, and was selected for preservation in the UsefulNotes/NationalFilmRegistry. Compare ''Film/StarkLove'', a 1927 film also in the Registry that offers a far darker take on life in UsefulNotes/{{Appalachia}}.˛˛----˛!!Tropes:˛˛* AttemptedRape: Luke Hatburn is about to attack his cousin Esther when he is pulled away by the sound of the gunshots coming from the Hatburn cabin. David has shot and killed the other two Hatburns.˛* DancesAndBalls: Esther has gone to the town dance, but David, who blames her for the harm her hoodlum cousins brought to his family, can't bring himself to go inside and face her. In one of the more memorable scenes in the movie, he lurks outside the dance hall, dancing by himself.˛* DownOnTheFarm: Beautiful Greenstream, nestled in a peaceful valley, populated by simple farm folk.˛* DramaticIrony: Just after the scene where David's dog is killed and his brother crippled, we see David, who knows nothing about this, imagining himself in rich clothes, driving a fine carriage with the dog seated next to him.˛* {{Foreshadowing}}: David reads the story of David and Goliath, which foreshadows his brutal fight with his own Goliath, the hulking Luke Hatburn.˛* GoneSwimmingClothesStolen: An interesting variant on this trope--David goes for a dip in the local swimming hole. His ''dog'' then proceeds to run off with his pants. ˛* HeroicBSOD: Allan's wife goes into a catatonic trance after he's brought back home, crippled. (The shot of her breastfeeding the baby is a reminder of how much the movies could get away with before UsefulNotes/TheHaysCode).˛* HollywoodHeartAttack: David's father Hunter intends to visit vigilante justice on the Hatburns, but is prevented from doing so by an abrupt heart attack.˛* ImagineSpot: David imagines the mail cart as a fine carriage, with himself driving it while decked out in the finest livery.˛* ImprovisedClothes: David has to put on a barrel after his dog runs off with his pants.˛* KickTheDog: When the Hatburn gang arrives at their cousins' farm, Luke Hatburn, who seems to like killing things, is about to wing a stone at a cat when his brother bumps into him. Later, he kills David's dog for no reason.˛* MommasBoy: Ma Kinemon calls David her "baby" and treats him as such.˛* ParentalAbandonment: No clue as to where Esther's parents are.˛* RunForTheBorder: The Hatburns make it over the state line just ahead of the posse that's chasing them.˛* UnstoppableMailMan: The climax comes when David, who has finally been allowed to drive the mail carriage, has to retrieve the sack of mail when Luke Hatburn steals it. He gets the sack of mail back and gets it to town, but he has to kill all three Hatburns to do it.˛----


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