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The Testing Block

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Testing Block
The Testing Block poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLambert Hillyer
Screenplay byWilliam S. Hart
Lambert Hillyer
Produced byWilliam S. Hart
StarringWilliam S. Hart
Eva Novak
J. Gordon Russell
Florence Carpenter
Richard Headrick
Ira McFadden
CinematographyJoseph H. August
Edited byLeRoy Stone
William S. Hart Productions
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • December 26, 1920 (1920-12-26)
Running time
60 minutes
CountryUnited States
English intertitles

The Testing Block is a 1920 American silent Western film directed by Lambert Hillyer and starring William S. Hart, Eva Novak, J. Gordon Russell, Florence Carpenter, Richard Headrick, and Ira McFadden. It was written by Lambert Hillyer and William S. Hart. It was released on December 26, 1920, by Paramount Pictures.[1][2]

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As described in a film magazine,[3] Nelly Gray (Novak), a member of a traveling show, is stranded when the manager abandons the troupe, and Sierra Bill (Hart), a member of a gang, helps with the gift of some gold. Although the gang leader has designs on the young woman, he agrees that the gang will fight it out among themselves and the last man standing will get her. Sierra Bill wins, and in a drunken fury forces Nelly to marry him. After the wedding he becomes the model husband and soon Sonny (Headrick) is born who is the apple of his father's eye. The gang leader returns with Rosita, a young Mexican woman, and discloses Sierra Bill's past to Nelly and suggests that he is even having an affair with Rosita. The gang leader directs Rosita through her cards to tell Sierra Bill that his wife is longing to leave him. Nelly agrees to leave with the trouble-maker, but with the promise that Sonny will soon join them. Sonny, however, is taken ill, and the husband and wife have a reunion at his bedside that brings a happy ending.


  • William S. Hart as 'Sierra' Bill
  • Eva Novak as Nelly Gray
  • J. Gordon Russell as Ringe
  • Florence Carpenter as Rosita
  • Richard Headrick as Sonny
  • Ira McFadden as Slim

Survival and Availability

The Testing Block has survived in complete form and a print is held by the Library of Congress. Much of the film was shot in and around Capitola, California, and to celebrate the film's 100th anniversary a scan of the LOC print was screened at the Capitola Community Center on January 26, 2020.[4] Afterward the Capitola History Museum uploaded the film online, preceded by an introduction. Having been released in 1920, The Testing Block is in the public domain.


  1. ^ "Progressive Silent Film List: The Testing Block". Retrieved January 23, 2015.
  2. ^ "The Testing Block". Retrieved January 23, 2015.
  3. ^ "Reviews: The Testing Block". Exhibitors Herald. New York City: Exhibitors Herald Company. 11 (25): 79. December 18, 1920.
  4. ^ "Testing Block: Capitola Screens 100-Year-Old Local Movie". TGP Online Daily. Retrieved September 15, 2020.

External links

This page was last edited on 20 May 2023, at 14:36
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