Just after Bob's fiancée breaks off their engagement, he meets young Mary, whose mother has just died, and the two of them comfort each other.



(scenario) (as D.F. Whitcomb)


Cast overview:
Mary (as Baby Marie Osborne)
Bob Daley
Marguerite Nichols ...
Sylvia Sanford
Andrew Arbuckle ...
Bob's Father
Mollie McConnell ...
Sylvia's Mother


Bob celebrates his engagement to Sylvia by going out drinking with his friends, which causes him to be late for a date with his fiancée. When Bob then lies to her about where he was, Sylvia breaks off the engagement. Meanwhile, young Mary is at home with her ailing mother when her drunken father arrives and beats Mary's mother until she is dead. In the resulting confusion, Mary wanders off and is met by the despondent Bob. He takes her home to his parents, who agree to care for her. In return, Mary is a source of comfort for Bob, and the broken engagement plus the knowledge of what happened to Mary's mother convinces Bob to give up drinking forever. Meanwhile, Bob's father tries to encourage Sylvia to come back. Written by Snow Leopard

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

3 March 1916 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Once Upon a Time  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

4 December 2009 | by See all my reviews

This short silent feature, "Little Mary Sunshine", is mostly an exercise in photographing a cute child being cute. Its highpoint is when the little girl interacts with and competes in cuteness with a trained bear, first in a humorous episode with the bear drinking water from a hose and, second, in the girl's dream where she offers the bear milk and a bath. (Clearly, there were laxer standards of child safety back then.) Otherwise, nothing of much interest happens, resulting in an essentially forgettable picture.

In the first part, there are parallel stories, which at first appear to be unconnected, but which will later become intertwined. Additionally, we're fed a dull teetotaler message after the male lead loses his fiancée after he gets drunk and after little Mary's drunkard father terrorizes his family. Technically, "Little Mary Sunshine" is unimpressive and probably somewhat below average; some of the editing seems especially choppy, although the print isn't in great shape. Some abrupt cuts were probably original, though, such as the one that leaves us only to assume that Mary's father struck her mother, but which we never see. A couple actors even look directly in the camera's direction, probably receiving direction--briefly but noticeably--another indication that this film was produced by a small company and by a then-inexperienced director Henry King.

By the way, as of this writing, the child star here, "Baby" Marie Osborne is one of the few to still survive from the early silent era and has recently turned 98. "Little Mary Sunshine" seems to be her only silent film available and to have also survived to today. In his "Silent Films" guide, Robert Klepper relates that in 1998, thanks to film preservationists, Osborne saw this picture after not having seen any of her silent films since the silent era.

EDIT: Marie Osborne Yeats died 11 November 2010 - a few days after her 99th birthday.

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