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  Tramp, Tramp, Tramp Gotta Walk
Year: 1926
Director: Harry Edwards
Stars: Harry Langdon, Joan Crawford, Edwards Davis, Tom Murray, Alec B. Francis, Brooks Benedict, Carlton Griffin
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: The Burton Shoes Company have taken the country by storm, and a popular advertising campaign involving model Betty Burton (Joan Crawford), daughter of the boss (Edwards Davis), has seen a large amount of billboards set up all over the land. To increase their share of business even further, Mr Burton arranges a competition for the sake of yet more publicity: a walking race that will set off from one side of the country and end on the other. This might be an opportunity for lowly cobbler Harry Logan (Harry Langdon), who is being threatened with his business going to the wall thanks to the massive corporation's machinations...

Yeah, let's hear it for the little guy, the little guy in this instance being Langdon, a silent movie comedian who in his short heyday was a rival to the big three of Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, and of course Charlie Chaplin. Langdon didn't spend too long near the top, but a run of popular short films had paved the way for his first feature, which was Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, named after the song of the day in reference to the sound your feet make when you're marching along. Although considering Chaplin was known as The Little Tramp, perhaps there was an element of building up an association between the two in the minds of the audience.

So if Chaplin was, if you will, the Burton's Shoes of the movie world, conquering all in his path, Langdon fit very well into the role of the put upon pretender to the throne, the tiny business just trying to get by in his unassuming way. A vaudeville comic who had made the transition to the big screen, Langdon's persona was far more childlike than his contemporaries, and although he was in his forties when he became famous in movies, he still had a baby face, accentuated by white makeup and delicate lipstick and eyeliner. His character here preferred the uncomplicated life, holding down a job, falling in love, that sort of thing.

The object of his desire in this case is the girl from the Burton's billboards, with Joan Crawford gaining one of her first starring roles, even if her part was something of a supporting one. In an unlikely turn of events, Betty is charmed by her fan to the extent that she encourages him to enter the walking race and wishes him to win, not knowing that the only reason Harry showed up was that he was carrying the bags of a contestant. That contestant, in an example of compact plotting, is Nick Kargas (Tom Murray), who happens to be Harry's landlord and the man who wants to kick him and his father out of their shop and home.

This gives us all the more reason to back Harry in his race attempt, not that there is much doubt over the outcome, but it's the journey that matters. A bit has been made of the way that the setpieces in Tramp, Tramp, Tramp echo other films, with Langdon hanging off a fence Safety Last style, or avoiding rocks Seven Chances style, but to his credit he made these aspects his own, as his personality was more of a bumbler than the more capable Lloyd and Keaton. If you were being unkind, you could describe him as verging on the pathetic, except that he does manage to triumph, and the film's grand finale, a Steamboat Bill Jr anticipating cyclone that hits the smalltown Harry has arrived in for the last leg of the race, more than proves his mettle as he saves Betty and expels the cyclone with sheer force of willpower. As far as laughs go, it's patchy, but you can see the star's appeal.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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