Gwen's family is rich, but her parents ignore her and most of the servants push her around, so she is lonely and unhappy. Her father is concerned only with making money, and her mother ... See full summary »
Gwen's family is rich, but her parents ignore her and most of the servants push her around, so she is lonely and unhappy. Her father is concerned only with making money, and her mother cares only about her social position. But one day a servant's irresponsibility creates a crisis that causes everyone to rethink what is important to them. Written by
In addition to typecasting Mary Pickford as playing child characters, this role established her as America's Sweetheart. The 24-year-old Pickford plays an 11-year-old rich girl, who's neglected by her parents and is raised by nasty housekeepers and several personal schoolmarms. The only playmate she's allowed is a bore. Of course, every viewer sympathizes with the character's predicament, and Pickford gets the most out of that. The mud fight and tantrum scenes add some amusement between the more gushy moments and the great dream sequence.
Much of the credit here also needs to go to the screenwriter Frances Marion. Besides being a woman in a male-dominated business, she was one of the first scenarists to have creative control over productions. Like another female screenwriter, Anita Loos, Marion helped introduce the role of intertitles in silent film (as opposed to the tableau style of title cards only to introduce scenes). Both women also sometimes demonstrated their authorship with self-referential winks; Marion's "Armarilly of Clothes-Line Alley" and Loos's "Wild and Woolly" are two examples--where the authors expose their constructions with one intertitle.
Pickford does well to overcome the weirdness of an adult playing the role of a child. Moreover, the setting of a mansion, in addition to large props and tall actors accentuate Pickford's natural smallness, but more needed to be done about her adult figure. Director Maurice Tourneur and the film-making crew add appropriate, non-intrusive style to this sweet photoplay, providing Pickford with the most important vehicle of her career.
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