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In spite of its notoriety amongst Mary Pickford fans, "Kiki" is far from the disaster it is reputed to be.
Legend has it that this film was an attempt to sex up the Pickford image, with results so catastrophic that she appeared in only one more film. That "Kiki" was a resounding box office flop is irrefutable. But it proves to be an entertaining, fast moving comedy with a dazzling tour de force from its star.
There is nothing at all embarrassing about Pickford's performance. She may not be at her most subtle, and there is notable absence of pathos, but she gives a credible performance and seems much younger than her 39 years. Her French accent may not be all that authentic, but it is consistent.
And she has clearly not lost her knack for physical comedy. Indeed her entrance - being hurled into a room flat on her posterior - is as memorable as anything in the Pickford body of work.
The supporting cast is not up to much, and the direction flags at the mid point - though Sam Taylor does offer a fine opening backstage sequence. "Kiki" may not be the best comedy of its type, but its very far from a write off.
As we are now removed from the Pickford mystique, its much easier to see her performance for what it is, rather than as a violation of a hallowed image. Its far too late for "Kiki" to find a popular audience, of course, but it is certainly due for a reevaluation.
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