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Wealthy Jervis Pendleton acts as benefactor for orphan Judy Abbott, anonymously sponsoring her in her boarding school. But as she grows up, he finds himself falling in love with her, and she with him, though she does not know that the man she has fallen for is her benefactor. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Daddy Long Legs
words by Sam M. Lewis & Joe Young, music by Harry Ruby. c. 1919
'inspired by Mary Pickford in Jean Webster's celebrated play- "Daddy Long Legs" directed by Marshall Neilan, A "First National Attraction"' See more »
Mary Pickford (as Jerusha "Judy" Abbott) is found, as a baby, in a garbage dump. Orphaned, she is brought to the "John Grier Home", where young boys and girls are treated more like convicts than children. By the time she is 12, little Mary is leading the orphans in a strike against eating prunes. Some years later, Ms. Pickford is the beneficiary of a lucky, life-changing event: one of the orphanage's new trustees wants to sponsor an orphan's higher education; and Pickford is chosen. At college, Pickford is a fetching young woman, which sends Cupid's arrows flying. Love-struck Princeton man Marshall Neilan (as Jimmie Mc Bride) and "older man" (as Jarvis Pendleton) vie for Pickford's hand in marriage. Pickford becomes a writer; her first effort fails, but she instinctively follows the advice "write what you know" in creating a successful tome about orphans. Finally, Pickford must choose her man, and payback her "mysterious benefactor".
Some of "Daddy-Long-Legs" doesn't ring true; vignettes are cute, in isolation, but add little to the overall film; it's obvious, for example, that the children experience some childhood fun, which is said to be completely absent. And, the cruelty of the "John Grier Home" is hardly comparable to a prison! You may also wonder why a fully clothed boy is considered "naked", how a baby might have digested a mouth organ, how that girl got in and out of the well, and other stuff. The film is not at all unpredictable.
However, Mary Pickford is outstanding. She very believably plays "Judy"
growing from a precocious 12-year-old girl to young career woman. As
the film progresses, Pickford seems to add layers upon her character. For example, in some later scene, beginning at a society party where Pickford admires some ancestral portraits; watch, as the party progresses, both Pickford's past, and future, register on her face. Pickford constructs her character extremely well.
Director Marshall Neilan (who also appears, as Jimmie Mc Bride) was an important Pickford collaborator; and the supporting cast is delightful. Wesley Barry is wonderful as Pickford's early orphan pal; he manages to steal scenes from Mary Pickford - 11-year-old Barry play "drunk" better than Pickford! Carrie Clark Ward is delightful as love-weary "Mrs. Semple", and Fay Lemport (as Angelina Wyckoff) shows how pampered, selfish little girls grow up. "Daddy-Long-Legs" was filmed again and again, but this is the definitive version, thanks, mainly, to Mary.
******** Daddy-Long-Legs (5/11/19) Marshall Neilan ~ Mary Pickford, Mahlon Hamilton, Wesley Barry
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