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A new and excellent interpretation brilliantly acted
Dicky was a breath of fresh air and was able to display the irrepressible nature with the gradual learning and understanding of buddah as he progresses.
Most enjoyable, easy to watch many times. Lots of fun, and some brilliant work by dicky cheung.
All the characters fit together extremely well. There is only one episode where it uses a local celebrity really to appeal the younger HK audience.
Time goes quickly, it is never boring.
It is probably the best of all the versions for its all round coverage and understanding.
A movie and Pickford's plea of forgiveness to Douglas Fairbanks
This in 1933 was Mary Pickford's last movie though she would not have known it at the time. Historically this is a particularly special movie for Mary's personal life.
Mary used this movie to make a statement to her husband Doublas Fairbanks (they were separated at this time and seemingly finished as the intense and deeply passionate couple they were). She at this time was telling Douglas Fairbanks she could forgive his meanderings and in fact the tenor of the whole movie is also about these sorts of choices.Mary was in fact seemingly desperate to get back together with Douglas. I think Mary chose this movie because it spoke to her current marital problems with Fairbanks.
Douglas Fairbanks responded to Mary in his last movie in 1934 - appropriately in the role of Don Juan in 'The Private Life of Don Juan'. His response - that he was tired, he needed to rest and to sleep. In real life Douglas Fairbanks in the end couldn't get Mary Pickford out of his heart and made a number of attempts to restart their relationships, but Mary had hardened her heart. And when eventually Mary did relent and decided she couldn't live without Douglas she was a few hours too late. Fairbanks in the end gave up, resolved himself that Mary wouldn't come back and booked himself on an overseas cruise. Mary sent him a message but it was too late, he had already left. And thus it was one of the great and passionate relationships of Hollywood finally died. It should not be under estimated how much these two loved each other. It was something neither got over for the rest of their lives.
Secrets was an odd movie that apart from the message it directed at Douglas Fairbanks certainly show cased some of Mary's great skill at comedy and at evoking an emotional response from the audience not to mention the last we got to see some her acting habits that created an attachment between her and the viewer. Mary's acting has always been effortless, always natural with a natural tempo. A study of her movies through the years is a revelation. Lillian Gish always thought Pickford the greatest of all actors.
Right from the beginning in 1909 Mary Pickford worked out and stated clearly many times that Stage Acting was NOT the way to act in moving pictures. Pickford pioneered method acting and the skill of silent acting, inventing a new type of acting for film, - where very subtle movements, gestures facial use and so forth had to be used to tell a story and engender emotion. She became the greatest and most skillful silent actor of all time. Revealing also are around 24 newspaper interviews she gave during her early and mid career that showed, that even the very young Mary Pickford made a very careful study of acting for the silver screen and her development of method acting. Even the teenage Pickford took the job extremely seriously.
Another thing people viewing this movie must remember about 1933. Sound was still new to film and the film technology for it still very young and the means of recording actors still in it's development stage, sound quality was not very good. In Mary's movie Coquette, her first talkie, sound microphones were stationary. Actors couldn't speak until they were in proper range of the microphone which created all sorts of problems and curiosities in the earliest talkies. They would speak their line, remain silent until the moved to the next designated spot where a fixed mike was and speak their lines and so on. Mary's other talkie Kiki wasn't a success at the time, though now it is thoroughly entertaining and in some parts great fun and one of the funniest comedic dance scenes you will run across in movies.
The success of Mary Pickford's talkie movies wasn't about Mary but what the public wanted Mary to do. She went in to totally different and unfamiliar roles. But one has to understand what was going on in Mary's life at this very time. She lost her deepest love and closest friend, her mother, which caused her to cut her hair for the first time every - totally changing her image and to reassess her life. She was devastated. Her other family members sister and brother were also in great troubles through alcoholism and sickness and of course she was having trouble with her husband. On top of this her studio UA needed to put out movies to make some money, this being the Great Depression, and Chaplin wasn't pulling his weight at the time. Pickford was under huge emotional, family and business pressures at this time.
Pickford never decided to make this her last movie - it just turned out that way as other business and family pressures kept her too busy and eventually she thought not to bother with it anymore - wrongly thinking that her popularity had gone past its use by date.
In this movie the comedic undressing scene bespeaks the effortless grace, timing and organizational skill of Pickford. The death of the baby silent scene fittingly gives us one last glimpse of the great actress.
It was a pity that Pickford never returned, she still had much to give and all the skill in the world to apply. Her acting was as good as anybody and probably would have reached its great heights again.
The main reason Mary Pickford never made movies again one feels, despite all the other reasons, is the loss of Douglas Fairbanks. If these two had reconciled, rejoined, it is inevitable their great passion and love of life would have seen Mary back in movies, instead this time being a great pioneer of the talking movies. Her career in acting spanned from the age of 5 when she traveled by train day after day, year after year, learning her trade.
Morning Glory (1933)
A rather ordinary film made interesting by the presence and acting of Hepburn.
Kate starts wonderfully in this, developing the character well and with lovely control. She moves onto a little Shakespeare Cameo that was well done if a bit of a corny device in the film. From here her earlier character seems to get abandoned and then come some mixed efforts - some good and some old fashioned over-acting that I thought was deliberate, but actually turned out to be Kater trying to act the character. Kate had some trouble staying in character for this role - but I am sure that is because of the haphazard assemblage of the film.
That the character Kate created in the early scenes suddenly goes to bed with some aging guy stretches credulity and quite distasteful, especially the scene where Fairbanks realizes this has happened. The older guy was neither charismatic, handsome of trying to woo Kate - we are given no hints as to how Kate suddenly decided to give herself to him and then somehow become smitten with him. Except maybe that with some strange leap of logic with no supporting data that she had decided to sleep her way to the top.
An uneven film, lots of glitches and would be of little interest except to see the evolution of Kate Hepburn's talents which definitely she showed in parts. However with Kate Hepburn as with that other great Mary Pickford, just appearing in front of the camera creates a magnetic appeal and a sense of fascination.
I am not sure how Kate won an Oscar for this, she was great in parts but not so great in many other parts of the film.
Tess of the Storm Country (1922)
This film does not fail to engage and move, even in 2008 to an audience only familiar with modern over-produced sound and computer enhanced techniques.
The experience of the movie goer in 1922 who could only see this in a cinema with others on their big screen must have been truly profound and a thoroughly satisfying experience.
One has to ask could a film maker today make a two hour silent movie and make it interesting and achieve the same structure tempo and balance as this movie has. Silent film making was pure art, it had to hold the attention through its structure, direction and acting - there was no padding out with more words or computer generated distractions. A poorly made or uninteresting silent movie is unwatchable.
This film needs to be put into context for those who might be disconcerted with the mention of Christian themes. This is not a 'Christiany' film, it is not selling anything. These themes along with reference to current moral standards often appear in this era - also church going on Sundays was a national past time, Christianity was a given in most households thus the film is only depicting normal life as it was then. The themes would have rung true and deep at the time.
It is most odd given the strong support to good Christian thinking of this particular movie (and it is not preaching religion to anyone, only highlighting the difference between hypocrites and the honest)that in 1922 a Pastor in an open debate with a representative from the film industry with a large crowd denounced Pickford as an example of immorality, along with some other individuals he named. NY Times 1922.
Maybe they should have watched this movie that also came out in 1922 and, learned some lessons.
The Pastor complained that since the film industry had started church attendance had dropped 500,000. The film representative in the debate however made the following observations; that saloon attendance had also dropped, that there were far more pastors in prison than actors (fact) and that selecting a few examples from among the many was not representative of the whole.
Thus there was an ongoing battle between church and the film industry during the early days of film.
This is a wonderful film about being honest and true to family friends and to be willing to make sacrifices. Mary Pickford, naive, honest, feisty, full of happiness and joy, faithful, humorous and silently sacrificing - though poor and uneducated she represented the perfect character. This however is not thrust down our throat but revealed bit by bit through the film.
This is reminiscent of some modern Chinese films where characters are slowly, languidly revealed over the course of a film and it is this tempo that creates a stronger connection with the character.
It has a smooth even tempo for the first half that builds all the elements for the last section. The last 30 minutes are great film making and it has to be appreciated it was achieved without the benefit of sound, running dialog - it was achieved through deft acting and great directing. It is sometimes surprising to realize that at the end of the film you haven't hear a word spoken, but it feels like you have heard everything.
The supporting cast put in great performances especially Gloria Hope, Jean Hersholt and Lloyd Hughes.
The final few minutes are typical Pickford understated humor as she goes outside under the pretext of sweeping the snow, a near perfect balance and ending. This is a special type of touching humor that should not be underestimated. Chaplin used this device often and copied some of from Pickford.
Another special observation to be made about Silent films and especially Pickford films is that the star often has to hold the camera for much of the movie without the audience becoming jaded or bored, with the actors over-exposure. That Pickford is usually thoroughly the center of attention through most of her movies but the people still couldn't get enough of her is a testament to her fine acting ability.
As a Boy Dreams (1911)
Haphazard Directors effort with one point of interest
A story badly told by the director, more like a high school effort. Mary left Biography for a short time with this company - a mistake she quickly rectified.
However you do get to see the 19 year old Mary Pickford dressed in tight sailors trousers showing her rarely seen fine figure and physical attractiveness. Interesting to see it for usually she is covered in large dresses or rags in her films.
Sailors on a ship have a treasure map and are discussing it down in their cabin. The Cabin Boy spies where they put the map and steals it and shows the captain. The sailors mutiny; the Cabin Boy and the Captains daughter (Mary Pickford) flee to an island, where the treasure is buried. Pirates come out of nowhere and grab them and kidnap Mary Pickford as well (who wouldn't) and, the boy endeavors to save her in the night but gets caught too. The boy gives the pirates the treasure map.
The mutinous sailors from the ship find the island and the treasure first. They have a fight with the pirates and all die.
While this was happening the Cabin boy and Mary get back to the ship, free the captain and crew and take them to the treasure - the pirates and mutineers having already killed each other the treasure is left to them.
The kids get married (he looks really young!) AND the BIG surprise surprise - look away if you don't want to know what happens next. The boy was dreaming it all.
Poor editing effort but you do get to study a few actors. Mary Pickford this early displays her natural habit of being a person who likes to touch, grab hold of people. She does it to the pirate at one stage in this piece subconsciously and monetarily and pulls back her hand realizing that it was not appropriate to the scene. It does hint though that when the Director called action Pickford buries herself in a piece.
The Light That Came (1909)
Not so bad
I found some interest in the film.
You could follow the story line, it all stuck together and had its climax. Nothing spectacular but one of the many movies to pumped out for the hungry theaters of the time. It did its job, told a story that kept the audience watching to the end. It was obviously a too in depth a story to tell in such a short film.
The man acting the blind musician a few times look like he was going to sway/topple over. But actually was quite credible as a blind person, certainly better than many other efforts.
Ruth Hart's performance was good and she showed some potential. Wonder why she disappeared from acting after 1910? Marriage? The other interest is seeing the 19 year old Mary Pickford as minor support player still learning her trade.
Wilful Peggy (1910)
Mary getting into her comedic element
You can imagine this 1910 film would have had the contemporary audience laughing their heads off. This is an exhibition of Pickford's natural beautiful comedic talents.
An enjoyable film and given that this was 1910 a very good comedy indeed for the time.
This was meant to be a light hearted fun film and it gives Pickford some time to have some real fun which she does and she begins to reveal to us some of the Pickford that was to be.
An attractive peasant girl attracts the interest of an aristocratic gentleman because of her feisty nature. They get married, though should didn't want to and pouts but accepts in the end.
Very important to note that it was Mary Pickford's feistiness in such a small pretty young package that attracted Griffith to her the very first time he met and then hired her. This entire film depicts exactly what became loved about Mary Pickford in her future movies and, became life time movie and private life trade mark - beauty, attractiveness but a feisty and either dogmatic and or comedic independence.
Mary then married gets to play the aristocratic women, and she has fun with it, you can see Mary is enjoying this bit. And it is cute, the audience of the time would have been smiling for sure as she lauds it around.
She however is still the peasant feisty girl and has her tantrums still when it is all too convoluted for her. Then the nephew, full of arrogance and sneakiness tries to lead Mary astray. Mary, innocent doesn't pick up until late that he has bad intentions - thus you get to see them playing together like one of Mary's peasant friends. He makes a pass and Mary shows in no uncertain terms that she is no loose woman and in no way is she to be tampered with.
Mary at her feisty best picks up the chair to beat the nephew with and he scurries and hides under the table with the angry Mary stalking and threatening him, chair held above her head. A lovely funny scene that the contemporary audience must have loved dearly.
Note: the building used in the opening scene of this film is the same building used in the later scenes of 1909 'The Hessian Renegades'.
There is a bit Chaplin in all of Mary's comedic acting in this film - but this was BEFORE Chaplin. It has been noted by others that a number of Pickford's comedic style and devices were picked up by Chaplin and further developed and stylized.
The Mender of Nets (1912)
An editing exercise
Noticeable are the large number of cuts between scenes and characters creating the narrative trying to give a mundane story some movement and an eventual climax.
A passable story but mostly of academic interest.
The story line is fairly mundane but Griffith does manage to give us an interesting suspenseful section as the brother tries to get a good shot through the window while the target just keeps moving out the way at the right time. We are kept in suspense - will he get his shot in or not! The seas-side setting and texture of fishermen is well made.
It is a short film so it is hard to criticize Griffith's morality here. The boy asks the girl to marry him then at the next moment is back with his old flame - which raises the question why make the proposal in the first place. Seems the boy gets off free in the end and it is Mary that has to make the sacrifice whilst also being the wronged girl from the beginning.
There is a hint in a number of Griffith movies that Mary Pickford is made to look more 'busty' than she is.
The Narrow Road (1912)
An excellent film for 1912
This film has a great many things that commend it and the audience of 1912 would have understood it much better.
In prison you see 'Jim' taking a quick little glances at a letter from the wife whenever the prison guards turn their back (prison was a harsh place back then), Mrs Jim comes to the prison walls every day. You see the feeling of longing between the two. Mary diligently maintains house and home even without the husband present.
The two men come out of prison - one immediately resumes his criminal intentions (counterfeiting coin), the other Jim has decided to try and go straight.
The police work out the counterfeiter and thus probably his prison mate are up to no good and go looking for them both. The counterfeiter realizing he is about to be checked out drops his counterfeiting kit (a suitcase)with Jim for monetary safe-keeping. Against his better judgment Jim agrees to look after the incriminating suitcase.
Almost immediately the police come in for a raid and knock on the door! Shock and fear and tension - the innocent Jim could be accidentally framed because of having the suitcase and thus off to jail for a long time. The police go into the bedroom to search (and it was where we saw the suitcase put, on the bed near a window).
Dramatic tension ensues. Jim and his wife wait, still, for the inevitable. They know they are done for and are just waiting, waiting for the police to come out with the suitcase and arrest Jim. You can sense their tension and it is built up by shots between the room where they wait and the bedroom where the police search.
But we are let in on a secret - moments before the police enter the bedroom room a couple of opportunist tramps look in the window, see a suitcase and steal it. So we are aware that Jim is going to be OK but also know he and his wife don't know that. We can observe their tension.
We are given a couple of long quiet shots of Jim and his wife almost motionless, distraught waiting for the bad ending. Almost too long if it wasn't for Mary Pickford adding a touch of humanity to the scene by ever so gently and quietly letting her hand slide down her husbands arm - like a real wife in reality - a very natural movement.
The police find nothing, they are all relieved and we go onto a lovely piece of irony and justice served to the counterfeiter. He sees the tramps with the suitcase had just given to Jim for safekeeping - he wrestles it from them just as the police come along - and grab them all, thus he gets his punishment.
Later just to demonstrate Jim has gone on the straight and narrow he picks up a dropped wallet and returns it to the owner - who also tells the police this when they come sniffing around for Jim.
Domestic bliss is returned and all feels well.
This was a very well put together film with a strong performance from Elmer Booth and nice work from Mary Pickford in the supporting role. Charles Mailes also looked very much the part of a counterfeiter.
Love Wild West style
When love leaves, then a woman needs to take the first best thing that next comes along, when you are out in the west. Doesn't take long for the abandoned woman to take up with another man.
Also seems to be a mate-ship message here from Griffith's - don't let a woman come between you and a mate, in the Wild West at least.
Barrymore looks like John Wayne in this, until the hat comes off. It is again interesting to see that Mary Pickford moves slowly and also uses her hands often and tenderly when with another - a habit of hers. I wonder if she was consciously slowing her movements down to make her movements appear smoother on screen. It is noticeable in a number of her films.
Also nice to be able to lip read Pickford when she is talking from the stairs..."Come up stairs" "come on"
I have only seen a a bad quality copy of this film but it is most obvious that Mary Pickford would have looked absolutely gorgeous in the clear fresh film of 1912.
We shouldn't forget the cowboy at the front in the saloon, who adds a lot of character to the scenes. It looked pretty much like Elmer Booth who was another fine up and coming actor of the time. He was the lead in a excellent little film with Mary Pickford - The Narrow Road (1912). Sadly he died as a passenger in a car accident in 1915. As reported in the New York Times of the day.