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Heart o' the Hills (1919)

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Reviews: 9 user | 5 critic

Family tensions in the Kentucky hills are inflamed by an outsider's dishonest scheme to exploit the area for its coal.


, (as Sidney A. Franklin)


(novel), (adaptation), 1 more credit »
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Title: Heart o' the Hills (1919)

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Complete credited cast:
Mavis Hawn
Harold Goodwin ...
Allan Sears ...
Fred Huntley ...
Granpap Jason Hawn (as Fred W. Huntley)
Claire McDowell ...
Martha Hawn
Sam De Grasse ...
Steve Honeycutt
W.H. Bainbridge ...
Col. Pendleton (as William Bainbridge)
Gray Pendleton (as Jack Gilbert)
Betty Bouton ...
Marjorie Lee
Henry Hebert ...
Morton Sanders (as Henry Herbert)
Fred Warren ...
John Burnham


In the Kentucky hills, Jason Honeycutt lives with his harsh stepfather Steve, not far from where his friend Mavis Hawn lives with her widowed mother. Mavis spends much of her time preparing for the day when she can discover who murdered her father, and can exact revenge. Steve Honeycutt is romancing the widow Hawn, hoping to marry her and take control of her land, because he knows that visiting businessman Morton Sanders is planning to exploit the area for its coal. When Sanders's plan becomes known, a group of vigilantes confronts him by night, and soon shots are fired. Sanders is killed, and circumstantial evidence leads to Mavis being charged with the crime. Written by Snow Leopard

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

kentucky | hill | coal | widow | stepfather | See more »


Drama | Romance





Release Date:

30 November 1919 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Heart o' the Hills  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Featured in Mary Pickford: A Life on Film (1997) See more »


Heart O' The Hills
words by Sam M. Lewis & Joe Young; music by Harry Ruby, c. 1919
'a song poem admiringly dedicated to Mary Pickford in her story of childhood in the Kentucky hills by John Fox Jr., A First National Attraction'
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User Reviews

One of the best
2 January 2007 | by (porltand, or) – See all my reviews

Look, no movie is without flaws, and this film is far from an exception to that rule but often while watching it-I'm an aspiring film maker myself-I felt a major rush of excitement a feeling a get sometimes when watching silent films where one suddenly goes "That's where that convention comes from!" It never fails to shoot adrenaline up my spine and put a smile on my face. As a lifelong fan of Mary Pickford, this film is good meter of her abilities. I think it's easy to write her off as "America's Sweetheart" and it's true-plenty of Pickford vehicles were insipid messes, that showcased her own cuteness more than anything else. A friend of mine once said, "She wore the masks of silent film and wore them well but that's about all." While that may be true she also had some real talent. In this film-I won't bother summarizing-Pickford walks a delicate line between cynicism and innocence, which isn't an easy task. There are also some more subtle choices, I personally feel that Pickford was far ahead of her time as far the idea of "microperformance" goes. There's a scene where she's packing some things into a saddle bag and just before loading in her deceased father's Bible she runs it under her nose to smell it. This isn't a big moment it's not a major point of focus and only a little bit of emotion crosses her face as she does, it doesn't feel forced and I would be shocked if it was scripted, it feels a little like Marlon Brando picking up the white glove and trying it on in "On The Waterfront." It doesn't tell you much about the story but volumes about the character.

I could rant all day about how great Mary Pickford is, but honestly while she's more than up for the task there's an abundance credit due to most angles of the production. The photography is world class for it's day throughout and in moments still striking by even the most modern of critiques. The cast is universally wonderful, i can't complain too much about any one character's acting, which isn't not a usual comment I'd make about a film from 1919. Moreover though, I'd like to mention the themes of the piece, they seem advanced far beyond that pale of most film from the early 1900's, or even from the 1940's or so. There's a revenge plot that feels a bit like Peckinpah storyline. There's a deep environmental angle that's as pressing now it was then if not more, development destroys the older ways of life by obliterating the land it plays out on, the canvas of culture is the earth on which it lives. The characters in Heart o' The Hills are poor, they live in Ramshackle cabins and are by all rights in need of the wealth a coal industry would bring them, but they don't want anything to do with it. And why not? It would end their existence as they know it. The second act culminates with Mavis-Mary Pickford's character-going a ride with the Klan to oust the lowlander-developers-which results in a shootout. It's frustratingly unclear what Mavis thinks about the Klan, but her grandfather seems betrayed when he asks her "You were out riding weren't you?" There's a lot balanced portrayals, of people here too. The wealthy elite of the lowlands are portrayed as having no respect for mountain life or the environment but are also seen to be forgiving and even charitable. The mountain people are portrayed as uneducated but more than capable of understanding their circumstances and the consequences of their world. Other pressing themes revolve around child abuse, classroom, and first loves and the ending of childhood.

This film has aged well and not by chance, the film makers treated the material with dignity and humanity, choosing to dwell on themes eternal and important, and yet still it can make you laugh out loud in parts.

I highly recommend this film.

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