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Poor Little Peppina (1916)

A little girl is kidnapped by the Mafia in revenge for her father's help in capturing one of the mobsters. She is presumed dead, but in reality is spirited away to Italy, where she is ... See full summary »





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Cast overview:
Hugh Carroll
Antonio Maiori ...
Ernest Torti ...
Edwin Mordant ...
Robert Torrens
Edith Shayne ...
Mrs. Torrens
Cesare Gravina ...
William T. Carleton ...
Detective Chief
N. Cervi ...
Mrs. A. Maiori ...
Francesca Guerra ...
The Stoker


A little girl is kidnapped by the Mafia in revenge for her father's help in capturing one of the mobsters. She is presumed dead, but in reality is spirited away to Italy, where she is raised as the daughter of a kindly couple. When she is betrothed to the cruel padrone, she disguises herself as a boy and stows away to America, where she finds herself once again in the clutches of the mobster who originally kidnapped her. But this time luck and her own pluck are with her, and the tables are soon turned. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

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Release Date:

2 March 1916 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Little Peppina  »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Featured in Mary Pickford: A Life on Film (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

Pastafazoola for Little Mary
14 May 2003 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews


'Poor Little Peppina' is not one of Mary Pickford's better efforts, although it's a creditable attempt at a change of pace for Little Mary. There's a long prologue in which she doesn't appear at all, her screen character being only an infant. Peppina's father is a wealthy landowner who helps send a Mafiosa to gaol. Seeking revenge, the gangster escapes and abducts Peppina. When a man and a child are rumoured to be drowned, Peppina's father assumes that the dead child is his daughter and he makes no attempt to find her. He sounds a devoted dad, he does...

Fade out, fade in years later, and now the girl Peppina is Mary in a long black wig. When she finds herself heading for a forced marriage, she escapes with the aid of a duchess who gives her enough money to reach America. Peppina is also given the address of the duchess's brother in New York City, who will help Peppina become an American citizen.

For safety's sake, Peppina disguises herself as a boy (like Shakespeare's Rosalind) for the trip, in which she stows aboard an ocean liner with her paisan buddy Beppo. Instead of cutting off her long tresses, Peppina becomes a 'boy' by tucking her hair under a cap. In New York, she easily finds work as a messenger 'boy' ... but she loses the address of her patroness's brother.

SPOILERS COMING. This film's plot has many, many, MANY coincidences. In New York, Peppina meets ... none other than the villain who snatched her in the first place. Seeking protection, she asks for help from a handsome district attorney, who turns out to be the duchess's brother. Mama mia!

I give Mary Pickford credit here for one of her rare attempts at playing a sexually mature woman, rather than the little girl-character who could always be relied upon to get the cash registers ringing in Mary's box office. Also, this is one of Mary's rare attempts at an ethnic role. Her boy disguise is almost convincing ... though not quite as convincing as in 'Little Lord Fauntleroy', in which she played a biological male.

Cesare Gravina is excellent in a supporting role. A fatal flaw is the casting of Mary's brother Jack as her peasant friend Beppo. Jack Pickford was an actor with decent looks but no talent, whose career was entirely due to his sister's stardom. In the scenes between Mary and Jack Pickford, their physical resemblance is quite obvious ... which is unfortunate here, as their characters aren't meant to be siblings. And the plot of this movie is unbearable. I'll rate 'Peppina' one point out of 10. Marron'!

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