THE SILENT TREATMENT: The Patent Leather Kid (1927)

“If you aren’t a fight fan, you will be when you have seen it.” — Screenland

Epic in scope, this deeply human character study showcasing the formidable acting talents of megastar Richard Barthelmess (Broken Blossoms, Way Down East, Tol’able David) stands alongside The Big Parade one of the silent era’s most empathetic WWI epics. Beginning on New York’s Lower East Side, The Patent Leather Kid tells the tale of a tough, streetwise prize fighter with slick, black hair (hence the nickname!) who initially balks at the idea of fighting outside the ring, yet is forced to apply the courage of a pugilist to the grim realities of battle on France’s front lines. Also featuring a breakout performance from Molly O’Day, Al Santell’s patriotic drama — which almost never screens anywhere in the world — comes to The Silent Treatment, with live music by Cinefamily accompanist Cliff Retallick.
Dir. Alfred Santell, 1927, 35mm, 150 min. (Print courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Fun fact: in the Rupert Hughes story on which the film is based, the “patent leather kid” is the name of the female lead, and Curly Boyle is the boxer — but in the movie, the lead character’s names were swapped!