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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one of the films Mary Pickford donated to Eastman House but, sadly when they finally got around to printing it, they found it had completely disintegrated. The film was adapted from an 1881 play by Frances Hodgson Burnett and William Gillette. It centers around the Rogers family, owners of a small farm. Their daughter, Esmeralda ( Mary Pickford ), is in love with a country boy, David ( Charles Waldron ), but her mother ( Ida Waterman ) yearns for high society. A miracle happens; ore is discovered on their land, and the money rolls in. The mother forces her unwilling family to move to the big city. Esmeralda yearns for her country sweetheart, as her mother confronts her with a string of eligible bachelors. As she still refuses to break her engagement with David, her mother tells her he is dead. Ill from grief, the heartbroken girl allows her mother to announce her engagement to a Count De Montessin. When David hears the news he decides to intervene and when he appears outside the church, upon seeing him, Esmeralda faints. In a final twist, the Roger's ore is soon depleted, and a fresh vein is found on David's land - thus the mother has to agree to the marriage of Esmeralda and David, that she opposed for so long. This film was shot at Englewood New Jersey and critics were not impressed by the movie or James Kirkwood's direction, and Emmett William's camera-work. But, Mary Pickford's amazingly high star status at the time still pulled it through. And one review wrote; Miss Pickford is enshrined in the hearts of all people, not because she is the sweetest of the limpid non-entities, but because she is a young woman of powerful personality and extraordinary dramatic talent. Hers is the art which conceals itself. Such hen-yard drama as Esmeralda is as unworthy of criticism as it is unworthy of Mary Pickford. "Such a sympathetic characterisation does Miss Pickford render in the title role that Esmeralda and Little Mary will forever appear as one in our eyes," said Motion Picture News. The loss of this movie is another disappointment and tragedy for silent cinema and Mary Pickford fans.
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