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The Little American (1917)

 -  Action | Drama | History  -  12 July 1917 (USA)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 461 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 3 critic

A young American has her ship torpedoed by a German U-boat but makes it back to ancestral home in France, where she witnesses German brutality firsthand.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Angela Moore
...
Karl von Austreim
Raymond Hatton ...
Count Jules de Destin
Hobart Bosworth ...
German Colonel
Walter Long ...
German Captain
James Neill ...
Senator John Moore
...
Bobby Moore
Guy Oliver ...
Frederick von Austreim
Edythe Chapman ...
Mrs. von Austreim
Lillian Leighton ...
Angela's Great Aunt
DeWitt Jennings ...
English Barrister
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Storyline

German-American Karl and French-American Jules are in love with Angela when each returns to his country as war breaks out. She sails for France and while there is nearly raped by Karl as the Germans invade. She is later arrested for sending secret messages to Jules but Karl defends her. Both are saved from execution by the arrival of the French forces and Count Jules Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The silent sufferers. See more »


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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

12 July 1917 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Pequena Americana  »

Box Office

Budget:

$166,949 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut of Ramon Novarro. See more »

Quotes

Angela Moore: [To Karl] If there's a spark of manhood left in you - go and save those women!
See more »

Connections

Featured in Cecil B. DeMille: American Epic (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

 
"I stopped being neutral and became a human being!"
2 September 2008 | by (Ruritania) – See all my reviews

With the US having recently entered the First World War, the country's best known and most popular director teamed with its most beloved actress to fire a cinematic salvo in this flag-waving adventure.

In style this is something of a departure for DeMille. He more or less abandons his use of long takes, painterly shot compositions and predominantly visual narrative, in favour of rapid editing and lots of expository intertitles. Of course this is purely pragmatic – it keeps the story moving along quickly and injects some excitement and tension into what is after all a propaganda piece. The heavier than usual use of intertitles also leaves no ambiguity about plot or character intention. Some of these editing patterns are quite effective – for example, the crosscutting used when the ocean liner is torpedoed. However fans of DeMille's early silents will probably find themselves missing the more considered approach they will be familiar with. This is certainly one of his least graceful films.

The fact that The Little American is more action-centred means it is less acting centred – there is not the same concentration on performance that you normally get with DeMille. For this reason this is not a particularly memorable role for Mary Pickford, and to be fair almost any actress could have played the part equally well. However the casting of Pickford would have been symbolic and psychologically effective at the time. Although the press had not yet labelled her America's sweetheart, she certainly occupied that position. Therefore DeMille did not have to go out of his way to endear the audience to the character of Angela Moore, because they had already formed an emotional attachment to Mary Pickford.

Regardless of how effective this picture was in its day it is really quite a mediocre effort when taken out of context. One interesting point though – the one scene in The Little American that really looks like the typical DeMille is the one in which Pickford and Holt take refuge in a ruined church below the effigy of Christ on the cross. Throughout the picture the stars and stripes is treated with the same reverence and significance DeMille might give to a crucifix. This picture is another small step towards the iconic imagery and preachiness that would characterise his work from the twenties onwards.


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