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A spoiled young rich girl is forced by misfortune to fight for survival in the slums and alleys, where she becomes involved with all manner of unpleasantness. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The film, released one year after the end of World War I, is proceeded by two short public service advertisements featuring Mary Pickford playing a schoolgirl. In the first she is writing on a school chalkboard that reads, in cursive, "Be an American help Uncle Sam pay for the War. The fighting is over but the paying aint." Someone offscreen is talking to her. She then adds the word "not" at the end. Then, after some additional prompting erases aint and adds "is". In the second public service announcement, she is again at the blackboard, writing in print "Buy WAR SAVINGS STAMP". Again, someone off camera prompts her and she adds a small "s" at the end. Then smiles and curtseys. See more »
Bratty young Mary Pickford (as Amy Burke) lives a life filled with tantrums in her fancy Fifth Avenue mansion, while wealthy grandfather Ralph Lewis (as Alexander Guthrie) wheels and deals. At first, Ms. Pickford is thrilled when Mr. Lewis announces a trip to Europe. She wants to go shopping. For no particular reason, Pickford decides she doesn't want to travel. It could be a woman's prerogative, or Pickford may be missing writer daddy Dwight Crittendon (as John Burke), an apparent sociologist. When her father suddenly returns, Pickford moves with him to slummy Craigen Street, where he plans to work on a book.
So, Pickford goes from pampered rich girl to street hoodlum - it's a struggle, but Pickford's plucky.
Previously, one of Mr. Lewis' business endeavors required the jailing of an innocent man, arousing bachelor Kenneth Harlan (as John Graham). Mr. Harlan turns out to be one of Pickford's ghetto neighbors. Pickford thinks Harlan might make good husband material, unaware he is plotting against her grandfather, who canceled his trip to Europe and has also moved into the area. "The Hoodlum" is hospitable Pickford fare. Her "little girl" character is broadly played, and provides salvation. Some of the early sequences are not pieced together well; for example, Pickford's father should have returned before she declined the European trip.
And, the early running time plays more painful than funny (especially for animals), and out of place.
But, once the story moves to an artificially created poor side of town, the film becomes quite visually strong. Scene-stealing street kid Melvin "Buddie" Messinger (as Dish Lowry) looks like the template for an early Mickey Rooney. Pickford's director Sidney Franklin, photographer Charles Rosher, and editor Edward McDermott combine camera shots and coordinate personnel to marvelous effect; their screen is incredibly alive. Though this is not one of Pickford's strongest overall characterizations, she excels in several sequences; a highlight features her lost in a bluesy-tinted New York City rainstorm, without an umbrella.
******* The Hoodlum (8/31/19) Sidney Franklin ~ Mary Pickford, Ralph Lewis, Kenneth Harlan, Buddy Messinger
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