Richard Barthelmess stars in this classic silent melodrama as David Kinemon, the youngest son of a family living in a small West Virginia town. While sweet and good-natured, David is not noted for his mature behavior, and his youthful overenthusiasm causes his mother to tell him, "You're not quite a man yet -- you're only tol'able." But David is forced to grow up and face responsibilities when a family of outlaws -- Iscah Hatburn (Walter P. Lewis) and his sons Luke (Ernest Torrence) and Little Buzzard (Ralph Yearsley) -- move into town and begin terrorizing the community. The Hatburns' reckless violence causes the death of David's father Hunter (Edmund Gurney) and cripples his brother Alex (Warner Richmond); David is suddenly the head of the family, and he's forced to support his mother and his siblings, take over Alex's mail route, and protect the town from the wrath of the Hatburn Family. Tol'able David was remade as a talkie in 1930 (with Richard Cromwell in the title role), and a clip from the original movie appeared in the classic horror film The Tingler (which is set in part in a theater specializing in silent movies).
by Mark Deming synopsis