Tess of the Storm Country (1914) Poster

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The role she was born to play - twice
jppu16 September 2008
The print I have of this movie has no musical score. So I just found an internet music station that plays only piano and harps and it worked well enough. I do wish the Pickford foundation would get their hands on a copy and do this version justice with orchestrations and a cleaner print than I have, which is actually pretty good considering it's almost 100 years old, and release it along side the superior 1922 version. Although it certainly is not as good as the remake, it has a lot of merit in its own right.

Firstly, we have to remember that Griffith was in the planning stages of filming Birth of a Nation. Edwin S. Porter is no Griffith and he basically treated the film as if he were filming a stage play but on location. Tess would have been the perfect vehicle for Griffith to experiment with film and editing techniques. Griffith is a wonderful storyteller of the greatest warmth and emotion (True Heart Susie, Broken Blossoms) and Tess would have been a great story for him to tell in his own unique style. Of course, if Griffith has filmed Tess in 1914-5, we wouldn't have Beaudiline's (sp?) flawless 1922 version. Porter's direction leaves one cold.

What Porter does do well is film on location. He's at his best outdoors and not working with actors. His style is almost docudrama and that approach may work for some stories. For this one, especially compared to Beaudiline's emotionally charged version, it was an unfortunate director's choice especially compared to Mary's over the top performance. She is having the best of times chewing the scenery and is works brilliantly for Tess.

This version of the film is all Mary from the first to last frame. She was talented enough to realize that she was not working with Griffith or DeMille as a director. Therefore she over compensates and leaves her competent but not great co-stars in the dust as well as Porter himself. But it's the little things she does as an actress that makes her extraordinary. The way she plays her father's homecoming by inching up his arms was a great choice and gives a really nice touch. Who can play white trash with more fervor, innocence and passion than Mary Pickford. Even in her lesser films, she awesome to watch.

If you are casual silent movie or Mary Pickford fan, then this film probably is not for you. But if you believe in the artistry of either Mary Pickford or silent films, then go for this one!
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Mary Pickford lights up this superb film
mkmkmkmkmkmkmk8 July 2008
It's a wonder 94 years after the first screening copies still exist. I had the opportunity to watch it and it was magnificent! As usual, sweet little Mary Pickford knows like no other how to mix comedy with drama. At the time, Tess of the Storm Country became a huge success. What else could it have been? Pickford clearly had fun shooting this film and probably was still buoyed up by the success of her previous film A Good Little Devil. The movie revolves around Tessibel Skinner, a little girl who is enjoying her life, despite the fact she's poor. When her father is put on trial for murder, she is devastated and tries everything to save him. But exactly how much is that going to cost? The movie had great outdoor sets, which makes the film a cultural pleasure. Pickford remade the film in 1922 after a few box office mistake and it became a hit all over again. The audience just can't stop adoring sweet little Tessibel Skinner.
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" Mary Pickford Soars To New Heights With Tess "
PamelaShort19 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Although cruder and rather primitive when compared to the 1922 version, this Tess from 1914 has it's share of enchantments. When watching this film one should view it through the eyes and mind of a 1914 audience. Feature films were in their beginnings and this was Mary Pickford's fifth feature. Movies themselves were now accepted and very popular among every class. There was something about watching Mary Pickford that moved silent-era movie goers and "Tess Of The Storm Country" elevated her to a new, higher star status. Audiences went wild over Tess and it broke records on four continents, setting Mary forever apart from other actors as the first modern celebrity created through moving pictures. The star's charisma starts right from the opening credits. A very ethereal Mary in delicate dress steps from behind a curtain, with an armload of roses she sets them into a nearby vase, then in the arranged bouquet, she buries her lovely face framed by those famous curls, the epitome of feminine beauty. Then enters Tess, a feisty and strong-willed girl in tattered dress. Mary's performance is brilliant, as it runs the gamut of her emotions, from a childish appeal and sprightly comedy to the finest of dramatic pathos. The film itself has some stunning exterior scenes, that were shot in what would now be called "deep focus". The locations were filmed suitably in Del Mar and at the Japanese fishing village in Santa Monica. With all of this, one can understand and appreciate the audiences feelings at the time, the magnetic grip Mary Pickford held, and why this was Mary's favourite character, to re-create again in 1922. Thankfully this film survives and is still a fascinating silent movie to watch.
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First Take
boblipton8 April 2017
"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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Mary Pickford, the First Time Around
gavin69424 February 2016
A wealthy resident attempts to dispossess squatters who live near his home, which leads to a false accusation of murder.

The film starred Mary Pickford, in a role she would reprise eight years later for the 1922 adaptation by John S. Robertson. Now, that in itself is rather interesting. It was not unusual in the early days of Hollywood to make a film and then make it again a few years later, sometimes using the same cast. Today we get upset when a film is remade that fast, but it sort of made sense at the time because technology was improving so quickly.

The strangest thing is that the remake is the better-known film, but this one is the one preserved as historically and culturally important. It seems like the one that more people had seen would have a bigger impact.
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