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C. Aubrey Smith
Norma Besant, daughter of a Southern doctor, is an incorrigible flirt and has many boys on her string. She begins to favor Michael Jeffrey, who, shiftless and hot-tempered but fundamentally honorable, is warned off by her father. When Michael returns after a long absence, the pair are innocently compromised, and Dr. Besant's old-South paternal rage brings tragedy. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
It's rather unfortunate that this is the only film for which many current movie fans remember Mary Pickford, because of the neglect of silent films and because of the undue weight given to well-known but arbitrary motion picture awards. While she is often unfairly blamed for the mediocre quality of "Coquette", the fault really lies elsewhere. Without a thorough adaptation of the material to make it more suitable for the screen, hardly anyone could have performed well enough to make this much better.
The story did hold possibilities, but it's the kind of familiar, rather routine melodrama that needs interesting characters, unusual situations, or snappy dialogue to make it work. There is none of that here - only a talky and generally predictable script, which would work better as a stage play or even a radio play. Neither Pickford nor Johnny Mack Brown has much of a chance to give it life. They do their best, and they simply perform their roles as they were written. Nor is it one of the worst movies ever - it does contain some stretches of genuinely good acting, and the story is at least a little better than the warmed-over scenarios of so many recent movies.
Pickford deserves to be remembered for her many fine performances during the silent era. She could also have made top quality talking films if she had been given the chance, but she was never given roles that allowed her to use her greatest strengths. Further, in the early sound era, producers and directors were overly interested in dialogue-heavy pictures like this, which seemed impressive at the time only because talking pictures were still a novelty. Audiences of the day enjoyed them, but now they look as dated and dull as today's over-praised computer-imagery extravaganzas will look in fifty years or so. None of that is the fault of the actors and actresses of the era.
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