IMDb > Sparrows (1926)
Sparrows
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Sparrows (1926) More at IMDbPro »


Overview

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Release Date:
1926 (Germany) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
Molly, the eldest child at a baby farm hidden deep in a swamp, must rescue the others when their cruel master decides that one of them will be disposed of. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
A Nice Gift From the Past for Lemony Snickett Fans See more (29 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Mary Pickford ... Molly
Roy Stewart ... Dennis Wayne
Mary Louise Miller ... Doris Wayne (the baby)
Gustav von Seyffertitz ... Mr. Grimes (as Gustave Von Seyffertitz)
Charlotte Mineau ... Mrs. Grimes
Spec O'Donnell ... Ambrose (as 'Spec' O'Donnell)
Lloyd Whitlock ... Bailey
Billy Butts ... One of the children
Monty O'Grady ... One of the Children
Jack Lavine ... One of the Children
Billy 'Red' Jones ... One of the Children (as Billy Jones)
Muriel McCormac ... One of the Children (as Muriel MacCormac)
Florence Rogan ... One of the Children
Mary McLain ... One of the Children (as Mary Frances McLean)
Sylvia Bernard ... One of the Children
Seessel Anne Johnson ... One of the Children (as Seeseell Ann Johnson)
Cammilla Johnson ... One of the Children
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Mark Hamilton ... Hog Buyer (uncredited)
A.L. Schaeffer ... Bailey's Confederate (uncredited)

Directed by
William Beaudine 
Tom McNamara (uncredited)
 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Winifred Dunn  story
George Marion Jr.  titles
C. Gardner Sullivan  adaptation

Produced by
Mary Pickford .... producer (uncredited)
 
Cinematography by
Hal Mohr (photography)
Charles Rosher (photography)
Karl Struss (photography)
 
Film Editing by
Harold McLernon (film editor)
 
Set Decoration by
Harry Oliver (settings)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Tom McNamara .... second unit director (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Earle Browne .... collaborator
Carl Harbaugh .... collaborator
William S. Johnson .... electrical effects (as William Johnson)
Tom McNamara .... collaborator
 
Crew verified as complete


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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
84 min | Canada:110 min (Ontario)
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:
Canada:PG (Ontario) | Finland:S | Spain:T | USA:Unrated | USA:TV-PG (TV rating)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Although William Beaudine received critical acclaim both inside and outside the film industry for his direction of this film, for many years a story circulated that star Mary Pickford felt that he was too cavalier about the safety of the actors, especially in a scene where she had to carry a baby across some water filled with alligators (Pickford wanted to use a doll, but Beaudine insisted on using a real baby), and even though the alligators' jaws were bound shut, Pickford swore that he would never work for her or her company as long as she lived. However, cameraman Hal Mohr, who shot this picture, said in an interview that the "alligator incident" never happened. He said that there "wasn't an alligator within ten miles" of Pickford, and that both the alligators and the baby in the film were all dummies because the studio would never have let a star of Pickford's magnitude endanger herself by working with real alligators, let alone allow a baby to go near them. In any case, Beaudine and Pickford did clash on the picture. Beaudine eventually walked off the set and turned the direction over to his assistant, and he and Pickford never worked together again.See more »
Movie Connections:
Soundtrack:
Shall We Gather at the River?See more »

FAQ

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful.
A Nice Gift From the Past for Lemony Snickett Fans, 28 June 2006
Author: aimless-46 from Kentucky

United Artists in the mid-1920's stood outside the motion picture industry's block booking system. It owned no theaters and did not have enough films to offer them in blocks. This meant each of the UA producers (Griffith, Fairbanks, Chaplin, and Pickford) had to finance each film individually; not an easy thing with the rising costs of producing long features. While Griffith was digging himself into a big hole (which would ultimately cost him his production company) making epic films and trying to top his early successes, Pickford prudently operated on a smaller scale. The irony being that she produced the type of folksy stuff that Griffith had once done so well and so profitably.

"Sparrows" was her last appearance as a teenager; her choice because even in her thirties she would have been physically believable in these roles for a couple more years. Most often described as "Dickensian" because of its gloomy feel and slightly off-kilter production design, "Sparrows" is the original "Series of Unfortunate Events". It is regarded as the least dated of her pictures (maybe of all silents), fitting because it does not seem at all dated. Even the humor seems contemporary with little Molly misquoting bible verses with stuff like: "Let not thy right cheek know what thy left cheek is getting".

"Sparrows" is also more perennially appealing than any silent film. In fact you have to go all the way until 1933's "It Happened One Night" to actually supplant it. But it is a serious subject as baby farms are a historical fact and wealthy parents had reasons to fear kidnapping. The kidnapping in "Sparrows" has an eerie similarity to that of the Lindbergh baby, which would not take place until seven years "after" the film.

The "look" of the film reflects the German expressionist style and should delight Lemony Snicket fans and anyone who gets off on creepy-strange beauty. Set designer Harry Oliver "aged the tree stumps with blowtorches, and the entire picture has that netherworld quality of a slightly stylized environment that could only be created in a movie studio". Watch for the early scene where the baby farm operator crushes the little doll and drops it into the quicksand where it slowly disappears.

You also see a lot of Pickford's technique in Hal Roach's "Little Rascals". Check out the sequence when Little Splutters is leaving and his imprisoned friends are waving goodbye from inside the barn, by passing their hands through the slats. In fact Spec O'Donnell, who plays nasty stepson Ambrose, would later be a Roach regular. He is responsible for the film's first big laugh when he beans Molly with a turnip while she is trying to get the baby to stop crying. It is totally unexpected and even the baby finds it funny.

Also of note is the dream sequence where Jesus comes to take the baby to heaven. Modern special effects could not improve on what they got using a simple matte exposure process. A similar technique worked so well with the swamp scenes that a legend grew up that Pickford and the children were actually at risk from the live alligators used in the scenes. Probably no silent managed a more genuinely suspenseful sequence than when they are crossing a rotting tree limb which is slowly cracking and dipping toward the water full of hungry alligators.

Gustav von Seyffertitz does great as the evil Mr. Grimes (an early Snidley Whiplash) and is one of the best bad guys to come out of the silent era.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.

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