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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
If you had to pick a typical Mary Pickford film to understand her appeal in silent movies you should look no further than The Poor Little Rich Girl. In this the 24 Mary with the curls that audiences the world over loved, plays an 11-12 year old girl, neglected by her status conscious parents.
Not that the idea was anything new, but Mary does put it over quite well. Her parents Madlaine Traverse are caught up in their busy societal world and pretty much ignore their child. But when she accidentally overdoses on some medicine and hovers between life and death her parents wake up and smell the coffee.
One thing I found absolutely fascinating was that apparently as a punishment for misbehavior one was forced to wear the clothes of the opposite sex. That certainly raises some interesting questions about gender identity in American society in 1917. Mary is forced to wear boys clothes and when she goes out and meets a gang of street kids, she's questioned about her masculinity and really lashes out at her tormentors.
What makes the film really standout though for me is the fantasy world that director Maurice Tourneur created as Mary is in a coma fighting for her life. Given the times the special effects cinematography was wonderful for its time. Cecil B. DeMille couldn't have done better creating a view of how a child saw the world around her and the possible paradise she could have if she quit fighting for her own life.
Great special effects and a standout performance by Mary Pickford make The Poor Little Rich Girl a classic from the days when movies had no voice.
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