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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 gives her usual delightful performance in "Daddy Long Legs", but the screenplay for this movie drove me crazy. The storyline jumps around and is misleading. For example, Mary's character Judy is at first shown to be a tomboy who speaks the sort of Huck Finn dialect that silent-film intertitle writers found so amusing, but suddenly we're told that she's a brilliant scholar. The impression I had up to then was that the orphanage kids weren't exactly being given a stellar education. The supporting characterizations are also inconsistent. The orphanage mistress is mostly murderously abusive, but then is shown desperately trying to help Judy catch a train to a new school. Why does she suddenly care? Judy's young suitor is portrayed alternately as an oafish fool and a charming lad, 'til we don't know what we're supposed to think of him. I'm not saying movie characters should be one-note--the heartless rich girl in the story is so unbelievably mean that she's dull--but the extreme switches indicate that the screenplay wasn't well-thought-out. There are loads of loose ends: what was the deal with the broken tail-light? What happened to the $1000 check? Why was Mary too ashamed to tell a certain story about herself, but not too ashamed to write a book about it? AND DID THAT GIRL EVER GET OUT OF THE WELL?
I also was kind of creeped out by the Jarvis Pendleton character--he was too controlling.
There are good things in the film besides Mary: the photography and tinting are beautiful (though the untinted whites of Mary's eyes are a little distracting), I liked the score, and the subject of the orphanage was an important one in its day. (I just today heard a radio documentary that discussed orphanages of that period, and they were much worse than the one in the film, which I had wrongly assumed was exaggerated.) To the film's credit, Judy works hard to become independent, but that aspect of the story isn't fully explored.
All in all, worth it for serious Mary fans, but for everyone else, I'd recommend "My Best Girl" over this one any day.
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