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Tess of the Storm Country (1914)

A wealthy resident attempts to dispossess squatters who live near his home, which leads to a false accusation of murder.

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Cast

Cast overview:
... Tessibel Skinner
... Frederick Graves
... Teola Graves (as Olive Golden)
... Daddy Skinner
Louise Dunlap ... Old Mother Moll
William Walters ... Elias Graves (as W.R. Walters)
... Ben Letts
Eugene Walter ... Ezra Longman
Jack Henry ... Dan Jordan
H.R. Macy ... DeForrest Young, Attorney at Law
H.L. Griffith ... Old Longman
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Storyline

Tessibel Skinner, a wild, motherless little elf, lives with her father in a rude but on the shore of Cayuga Lake. On account of the sudden and regular squalls on the lake, the vicinity is called the "Storm Country," while the poor and ignorant fisher-folk thereabout are generally known as "squatters." Tess is one of these people, and adores her uncouth father, who lives by poaching and the illegal netting of fish. One day he is found near the body of a murdered gamekeeper, with a rifle close by, containing one empty chamber. Skinner is accused of the murder and convicted on circumstantial evidence. Tess is frantic with grief and anxiety, but Frederick Graves, a handsome theological student, and his sister, Teola, befriend Tess. Frederick tells her of God, of whom she has never heard, and His written word, the Bible, and bids her pray and have faith. Tess steals a Bible from the Mission Church, painfully spells out the lessons taught her by Frederick, and the untutored girl's faith ... Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

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Drama

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Release Date:

30 March 1914 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La madonnina del porto  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$10,000 (estimated)
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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Tess of the Storm Country was remade in 1922 with Mary Pickford reprising her role as Tess for the remake. See more »

Connections

Followed by The Secret of the Storm Country (1917) See more »

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User Reviews

 
First Take
8 April 2017 | by See all my reviews

"Daniel J. Frohman Presents America's Foremost Screen Actress, MARY PICKFORD in the famous tale of a woman's heroism, "TESS OF THE STORM COUNTRY" by Grace Miller White, Produced by The Famous Players Film Co., Adolph Zukor Pres., Under the Personal Direction of Edwin S. Porter" read the opening titles. Then Miss Pickford in a beautiful dress emerges from a stage curtain and, speaking to people behind it, plops some flowers into a vase.

No one quite knew how to produce a feature-length movie in 1914. Zukor's idea was to offer "Famous Players in Famous Plays". This often resulted in stodgy reproductions of key scenes, held together by chapter-heading titles and the audience's understanding of the story. TESS is an example of this, and it has its problems, particularly with continuity. In fact, about the 50-minute mark, Mary pops out of a trash can for no reason I could tell and director Porter loses all sense of what is going on. He advances the plot by means of letters written by the characters for the next ten minutes. A skilled editor would have been a great deal of help.

In the end, this movie winds up a series of short stories linked solely by the performance of Mary Pickford. She performs most of it in a comic mode, ready to kick offenders and deal with often awful situations, wearing a ragged dress that is never patched nor trimmed over the nine months or so that the movie covers. She carries this movie solely on her acting abilities, while most of the people around her act like jerks. Only Olive Golden (later Carey) as the unwed mother whose baby Miss Pickford cares for, offers anything in the way of a worthwhile supporting performance.

Miss Pickford would return to the story eight years later, when film technique had caught up to the rigors of features and the self-possession to tell a story without reference to another, "superior" medium. That is the version to see. Except for Miss Pickford's performance, you can skip this one.


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