"Little Miss Hoover" is one of the few titles starring Marguerite Clark that is available today. "Snow White" (1916) and "Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch" (1919) are the only other two available on home video, as of yet and that I know of. Reportedly, only a handful of her films are known to survive. From 1914 to 1921, however, Clark was one of cinema's most popular stars. Her stardom was especially comparable to Mary Pickford; due to their short statures, they both often played childhood and ingénue roles, and they were often seen as the two most popular screen actresses in America. Indeed, in a 1918 Motion Picture magazine poll, fans voted Clark the second most popular movie star, behind only Pickford. A 1920 Quigley poll voted Clark the top female box-office draw. Reportedly, by 1919, her salary was $300,000 annually.
This vehicle of hers, "Little Miss Hoover" can be mildly entertaining, but it's not as good as her other two available films, nor probably as good as some of her now mostly or entirely unavailable work. Also in 1918, the year when, according to biographer Curtis Nunn, Clark reached the peak of her career, she played dual roles as Eva St. Clair and Topsy in "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and the title role in "Prunella", which under the direction of the pictorial artist Maurice Tourneur, may have been Clark's greatest film. Additionally, in her filmography overall, Clark was billed ahead of prominent leading men like Harold Lockwood, Thomas Meighan, Harrison Ford and, in a half dozen films, Richard Barthelmess. She also played dual and male childhood roles in "The Prince and the Pauper" (1915), which was before Mary Pickford tried similar parts. Another fairy film "The Seven Swans", her part as a stage actress in "The Fortunes of Fifi" (both 1917), turning blonde for "A Girl Named Mary", and "Out of the Kitchen" (both 1919) are some of the additional titles whose loss seem most lamentable. Yet, a release or rediscovery of any one of the rest of Clark's 39 features would be cause for celebration.
"Little Miss Hoover" is one of the many patriotic pictures Hollywood churned out during WWI. Like other stars, Clark was also active in selling liberty war bonds and in making short propaganda films. In addition, the film is a rural romance set on the farm, which was a genre Clark had treaded a few times, although she made various sorts of romances, from fairy tales to costume dramas. In "Little Miss Hoover", Clark's character decides to aid the war effort by farming to provide food for soldiers and Europeans devastated by battle. In reality, such programs were advocated by would-be President Herbert Hoover, hence the film's title. The post-war feeding of Europe part advocated in the film kept the picture relevant, as it wasn't released until after the war had ended; less jingoism than other WWI programs also helped.
There are a few surprises in "Little Miss Hoover". The audience is privy to the secret identity of the male lead, yet the other suitor appears at first to be a potential baddie and another woman turns out not to be scorned. In the first case, the audience knows more than the characters, but it's vise versa in the latter two instances. There's also nearly a tar and feather assault. Yet, overall, it's a rather straightforward and mediocre picture. Clark's virgin/ingénue is so naïve this time that she doesn't know the role of the rooster in producing eggs. Marguerite Clark, however, is charming throughout and holds an albeit average, if interesting, film together.
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