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Evil Mr.Grimes keeps a rag-tag bunch orphans on his farm deep in a swamp in the US South. He forces them to work in his garden and treats them like slaves. They are watched over by the eldest, Molly. A gang in league with Mr. Grimes kidnaps Doris, the beautiful little daughter of a rich man, and hides her out on Grimes' farm, awaiting ransom. When the police close in, and Mr. Grimes threatens to throw Doris into the bottomless mire, Molly must lead her little flock out through the alligator-infested swamp. Written by
John Oswalt <email@example.com>
The quicksand was sawdust and cork, ground up, with water. And, it had a bottom to it, so that you couldn't actually go under. Child actor Spec O'Donnell's feet were resting on something solid; he couldn't go further down than his chin. See more »
According to the film history book on United Artists, Sparrows did not quite as well as expected. I suspect the reason is because Mary Pickford at 33 was getting a little long in the tooth to be believable as an orphan waif. Soon enough her golden curls were shorn and she would finally be taking grown up roles at the end of the silent era.
Sparrows takes a lot from Uncle Tom's Cabin without the racial component. Mary is the oldest of several orphan kids who work just like slaves on the farm of the Simon Legree character Gustav Von Syefertitz who played many villainous roles in silents and his wife Charlotte Mineau who aids and abets her husband's villainy.
Von Seyfertitz is up for all kinds of villainy so when some kidnappers want to stash a baby, rich Roy Stewart's baby he's willing for a cut of the ransom. Later when Stewart agrees to pay the kidnappers come back, but by that time Mary is leading her charges through the swamp to escape as she and the kids have had enough.
Most of the film is a white version of Uncle Tom's Cabin, but the ending is out of David Copperfield.
Sparrows is a great example of the art of Mary Pickford and what her appeal was to the movie-going public. She personified goodness and innocence on the screen despite three marriages. Instead of an icy Ohio River, Mary gets to take her brood through the Louisiana swamps with the ever present danger of alligators. I'm sure for 1926 audiences it must have been quite thrilling.
It will still thrill audiences of a new century.
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