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Man to Beat Jack Johnson, The (1910)


Main image of Man to Beat Jack Johnson, The (1910)
35mm, black and white, silent, 280 feet
Production CompanyTyler Film Company

Cast: Willy Sanders

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Four-year-old Willy Saunders demonstrates his boxing and wrestling skills.

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This short comedy, produced by the Tyler Film Company and released in 1910, features the boxing and wrestling talents of four-year old Willy Sanders, as he takes on an unidentified (and unworthy) adult challenger - "Thanks, but I expected more", reads the final title as the victorious Willy celebrates.

A simple idea (and a slightly disturbing one) and primitive in its execution, the film has the feel of a filmed music hall act (which it may have been) - the camera remains static throughout, with long takes broken only by the intertitles. The Jack Johnson of the title was the world Heavyweight boxing champion of his day.

Sanders was beginning a short career as a child star, best known for a series of films as 'Little Willy' for the French company Éclair.

Like many impresarios of the early silent era, Walter Tyler was something of a generalist, involved in production, distribution and equipment manufacture. One of a number of small production houses, his company issued a variety of comedies, travelogues (for example a series entitled Historic Spots of Old London) and zoological films. After Tyler's death in 1909, the company split in two, with the equipment sales handled by the Tyler Apparatus Co., while the Tyler Film Company took over the production and distribution work.

Mark Duguid

*An extract from this film is featured as part of 'How They Laughed', Paul Merton's interactive guide to early British silent comedy. Note that this material is not limited to users in registered UK libraries and educational establishments: it can be accessed by anyone, anywhere.

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete film (3:07)
Production stills
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Topical Budget 717-2: Samson Junior (1925)
Topical Budget 979-1: Training the Young Idea (1930)
Two-Chinned Chow (1923)
A Year in Film: 1910
Silent Comedy