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The tenements are home to an international community, including the friends and family of a tough young ragamuffin named Annie Rooney, but their neighborhood may be threatened by a potentially dangerous street gang.
In the late 1800s New England, banker William Marlowe and his wife Martha have arranged for their daughter Mary to marry the officious and older Lord Hurley of England. Mary does not want to marry Lord Hurley, but rather John Carlton, a lowly clerk at her father's bank. The two fell in love at first sight. When John and Mary's relationship is discovered by her parents, William discharges John. Knowing he can't get another job in New England, John decides to move west to California to start a new life off the land. Despite the probable hardships, Mary wants to go along and the two elope. They do face those initial hardships, most specifically an especially violent encounter with cattle rustlers, but they are able to carve out a successful life as ranchers. Twenty years, several children and a mansion of their own later, John is a popular choice to run for governor. Some past indiscretions may not only threaten his gubernatorial run but his marriage altogether. Written by
Mary Pickford's final film isn't nearly as bad as its reputation but at the same times it's way too dated and I'm sure people in 1933 felt this way as well. In the film she plays a rich girl who turns her back on her father's money and an arranged marriage so that she can run off with the poor boy (Leslie Howard) she loves. The two head out West where we see the next fifty-years, which includes many highs and lows including an attempt for him to run for Governor only to have a lover come out to try and destroy the family. When you bring this film up to film buffs a big fight usually starts as to whether or not Pickford should have called it quits after this. Some will argue that her voice and acting style didn't blend well in sound pictures and others will say that she was perfect in this picture and will bring up the fact she won her Oscar for a sound movie. I'm somewhere in the middle because I feel she has some incredibly wonderful scenes here but the majority of them are during silent moments. There's a heartbreaking scene she has with her kid during a shoot out that is among the best work I've seen from her. The part of her performance that doesn't work is early on when the star, who was pushing 40, tries to act like a teen. I know American loved this but it was clearly out of style by 1933 and her voice, also trying to act younger, just doesn't work and comes off very silly. Howard is very good in his role and manages to handle the comedy as well as the drama. C. Aubrey Smith plays Pickford's rather silly father and seems to be having a great job with it and especially in one sequence where he calls Howard's character countless bad names. The biggest problem with the film is its pacing, which is extremely slow for the first hour but finally picked up in the last thirty-minutes. The original director was fired by Pickford so I'm not sure how much of this might be his fault. Another problem is that the film seems to want to be an epic but it's cut down to a rather brief 84-minutes, which means we're jumping around way too much. We go from the two of them being happily married and then cut to nearly twenty-years in the future when Pickford learns that her husband has been cheating on her. There's not too much character development and things just happen way too fast. With that said, there's still enough here to make this worth viewing as fans of Pickford and Howard will certainly want to check it out.
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