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16 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Mary Pickford and Charles Rosher too

Author: boblipton from New York City
28 February 2005

I doubt if the costuming involved in this movie fooled anyone for an instant. Mary Pickford is clearly Mary Pickford. But she was playing a role and the audience of the time -- and I -- have no problem accepting her in the part of a boy, any more than I have a problem with the fact that Peter Pan is invariably played by a woman. I think she is perfect in the role.

This is a warm and funny version of the story, enlivened by Miss Pickford and a wonderful supporting cast, including Claude Gillingwater as the grouchy earl, D.W. Griffith regular Kate Bruce as an old apple seller and Mary Pickford as Fauntleroy's mother. People may have trouble with the sentimental story and tone, but if you accept the tale then you should have no complaints as to its manner of telling. Again, I have no problem with the story and think it compares favorably with the sound version produced by Selznick fifteen years later. True, no one can top C. Aubrey Smith as a grouchy English aristocrat, but Freddy Bartholomew was always annoying as Fauntleroy -- or, indeed, as anything.

No discussion of this movie would be complete without mentioning cameraman Charles Rosher's wizardry. There is a wonderful shot as Pickford as Fauntleroy kisses Dearest on the cheek, done so casually and effortlessly as to make it easy to miss; but it took 18 hours to film correctly. We are also confronted with the fact that Pickford as Fauntleroy seems to be about four and a half feet tall. Miss Pickford was a short woman, but she was a lot taller than that. Fans of the LORD OF THE RING trilogy are doubtless now familiar with the idea of forced perspective and doubled sets; but to watch the results done in 1921 without computer aids, optical printing or computer effects to aid the process and you will begin to get an idea of what a genius Rosher was.

My warmest thanks to the fine people at Milestone for producing this DVD release. The story is that Miss Pickford was going to have her pictures destroyed at her death because she felt that time had passed them by. She was talked out of this fancy. We can only be glad.

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Just Superb

Author: drednm from United States
1 April 2006

Mary Pickford, perhaps the biggest star of all time, stars in two roles in this funny and charming version of the classic novel about a New York City boy who becomes an English earl.

Although the 1936 talkie version is better remembered, Pickford is just wonderful as 12-year-old Cedric Errol and little boy in curls (get it?) who is transported to a world of huge castles and a grumpy old grandfather. Pickford also plays Cedric's mother (on 6-inch stilts) and is charming as the adult.

The trick photography (this is 1921, remember) is flawless and allows Pickford to play both parts in several scenes without even a hint of how they did it. Just amazing. Pickford often played dual roles in her films (Stella Maris, 1918) and it seems she could play just about any part.

The most beloved star of her era (or any era for that matter)--bigger than Fairbanks, Chaplin, or Swanson--Mary Pickford charmed audiences for more than 25 years in well over 250 films as the essence of joy, humor, and high spirits. and Little Lord Fauntleroy is one of her best! Claude Gillingwater is the old earl, Kate Bruce in the apple vendor, Rose Dione is the fake wife, and Joseph Dowling as Havisham.

The film was co-directed by Mary's brother, Jack Pickford.

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Enjoyable Old-Fashioned Story Plus Pickford's Irresistible Charm

Author: Snow Leopard from Ohio
5 July 2005

Just in itself, this is an entertaining version of the old-fashioned story of "Little Lord Fauntleroy", with good characterizations, settings, and story-telling. But what makes it particularly enjoyable is Mary Pickford's irresistible charm in a double role as young Cedric and as his mother.

Pickford's performance as the mother 'Dearest' is flawless, as she portrays her with elegance and grace, practically the image of the character that you get from the story. As Cedric, Pickford certainly gives the character a new look. There's nothing in the least to criticize about her performance, yet it's impossible not to be reminded of Pollyanna, Rebecca, or Pickford's other young girl roles. Even when she gives her character a rough-and-tumble look (at which she is very good), she is just too feminine and too attractive for it not to be noticeable. Yet her charm and buoyant energy make Cedric a thoroughly engaging character, if somewhat different from his literary image.

The rest of the production deserves plenty of credit as well. Several of the supporting characters are especially good. Claude Gillingwater strikes just the right note as the old Earl, and there is a trio of pleasant characters from Cedric's old neighborhood, who just have to come on screen to be good for a smile. The settings and photography are nicely done, never ostentatious but always providing an effective backdrop for the characters and story. Perhaps most impressive of all is the special effects wizardry that makes Pickford's dual performance work so well, frequently putting her two characters together without the slightest snag.

This is the kind of old-fashioned story that Pickford makes almost effortless, yet it's not hard to see a good number of strengths, both in her own performance and in the rest of the movie.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

" Mary Pickford Kisses Mary Pickford "

Author: PamelaShort from Canada
2 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The cinematography is absolutely wondrous for this 1921 silent film adaption of "Little Lord Fauntleroy." This movie is anything but boring, as it is fascinating to watch Mary Pickford's performance as Cedric. Mary herself said that while playing a boy was the most difficult thing she had done, she got the walk for Cedric from watching her husband Douglas Fairbank's swagger in his film The Three Musketeers. Her characterization of Cedric is very appealing and fun to watch. Besides portraying Credric, Mary also plays the part of the loving mother Dearest. The films most memorable scene is pure genius for it's time, when Cedric kisses his mother Dearest on the cheek. Mary Pickford kisses Mary Pickford, a great triumph that was accomplished, by a lot of hard work from the amazing cinematographer, Charles Rosher. The locations are completely convincing and beautiful of Old New York and England. All of the characters come alive, and Claude Gillingwater is terrific as the crotchety Earl of Dorincourt. Mary Pickford's charm and star power, along with the high production standards, really shine through in this outstanding silent film. Very enjoyable classic to watch.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Suspend Disbelief and Enjoy the Charm

Author: brainyidiot from Ann Arbor, Michigan
27 August 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After you get used to the idea of the then 29 year old Mary Pickford playing a boy, you'll find this silent film is a classic in its own right. Miss PIckford also plays the lads mother incorporating techniques quite clever for its day. Tricks like forced perspective, over-sized sets, and double exposures that reportedly took many hours to film to get it right. The sentimental story's acting is superb all around and encompasses quite a bit of humor as well as drama. The sets are very good and it's amazing how Miss Pickford acts a bit naive like a young boy would but full of genuine heart and compassion for others. Claude Gillingwater is excellent as the cantankerous Earl who sends for the American boy who he had disowned because his late son had married a American commoner. Also excellent is Joseph Dowling as the Earl's lawyer who handles his affairs including being the bearer of bad news. The film has been restored by the Mary Pickford Foundation and a very nice orchestra soundtrack was added in recent years. It all adds up to a timeless movie fill of charm and it's easy to see why Mary Pickford was a superstar in her time. Another note: She became so popular that she formed her own company and along with others like Charlie Chaplin was a founder of United Artist which is an organization of independent film companies.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

good--though not among Pickford's best.

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
18 May 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a very good film and it's well worth seeing. However, be aware that if you haven't seen a Mary Pickford film before, this is far from her best work and I'd place it among the middle of her efforts of the 1920s.

One thing you need to understand is that back in the 1910s and 20s, Mary often played children and teenagers. While she's clearly NOT a child and was actually closer to middle-age, this is a bizarre convention in her films that people of the day just accepted. To heighten this effect, a lot of trick cinematography was used as well as very tall actors and large sets to make Mary appear younger--perhaps about 11 or so. However, this was an even taller order than in films such as "Daddy Long Legs" or "Sparrows", as Mary plays a boy---as well as his own mother!!! Yep, using split screen camera-work, they are able to have several scenes where Mary (as the mother) interacts with Mary (as the son!).

As for the story, it's a lot like the later incarnations of "Little Lord Fauntleroy". A single-mother and her plucky child are suddenly taken from their normal lives and transported to England, as the child is the next living heir to a huge estate. However, the child's mother is an undesirable--a reminder that one of the family members had a dalliance with a commoner. So, the agreement is that the mother live nearby and only have limited contact with the child and no contact with the grandfather. However, because the child is so gosh-darn sweet (and plucky), eventually the old grouch's heart is melted and the mother and grandfather are united for the good of the sweet and plucky child (did I mention that he's plucky?!).

Overall, it's well made and interesting--plus the dual roles are an interesting experiment. My only gripes about the film are that the old man becoming nice at the end seemed to happen out of no where and could have used a few transitional scenes. In addition, I just couldn't buy Mary in this big a stretch--it just seemed a bit too much to expect the audience to accept. A noble experiment that's worth seeing but that's about it.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

How the process was done

Author: from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
24 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have a very good idea how the double exposures were created: Mary Pickford must have been photographed with her body covered in a black body stocking for both of her roles, and then two doubles - one of which may have been Mary's sister Charlotte - were photographed in costume. Then the footage of Mary's head was composited into the scene on the bodies of both doubles. No wonder it took hours to photograph the double exposures: the optical printer as we know it today had not yet been invented, and it had to be done by hand, which took longer than it would have done today with a digital compositor. Therefore, it would have taken a full working day to get the scenes shot and to get them to composite properly together.

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