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The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama, Family | 5 March 1917 (USA)
The wealthy but selfish parents of a lonely young girl begin to rethink what is important to them after a servant's irresponsibility results in a crisis.


Maurice Tourneur


Eleanor Gates (play), Frances Marion (scenario)

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Stars: René Poyen, Jeanne Saint-Bonnet, Renée Carl


Cast overview:
Mary Pickford ... Gwendolyn 'Gwen'
Madlaine Traverse Madlaine Traverse ... Gwendolyn's Mother
Charles Wellesley Charles Wellesley ... Gwendolyn's Father
Gladys Fairbanks Gladys Fairbanks ... Jane
Frank McGlynn Sr. ... The Plumber
Emile La Croix Emile La Croix ... The Organ Grinder
Marcia Harris Marcia Harris ... Miss Royale
Charles Craig Charles Craig ... Thomas
Frank Andrews Frank Andrews ... Potter
Herbert Prior ... The Doctor
George Gernon George Gernon ... Johnny Blake
Maxine Elliott Hicks ... Susie May Squoggs (as Maxine Hicks)


Gwen's family is rich, but her parents ignore her and most of the servants push her around, so she is lonely and unhappy. Her father is concerned only with making money, and her mother cares only about her social position. But one day a servant's irresponsibility creates a crisis that causes everyone to rethink what is important to them. Written by Snow Leopard

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Not Rated






Release Date:

5 March 1917 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Rapariguinha Pobre See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (TCM print) | (TCM print)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


One of many Silent Era motion pictures starring "America's Sweetheart" Mary Pickford which were remade as Shirley Temple vehicles. Known as the "Girl with the Curls," Pickford's box-office hits included The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917), Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917), and The Little Princess (1917). In the mid-1930s, 20th Century Fox studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck re-purposed Pickford's films as vehicles for Temple and thus produced Poor Little Rich Girl (1936), Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938), The Little Princess (1939), etc. Zanuck also instructed studio publicists to use Pickford's persona and nicknames as a model for Temple's public image as a Hollywood star. (Frank McGlynn Sr., who plays the plumber in this film, would also co-star with Temple in Little Miss Marker (1934) and The Littlest Rebel (1935).) See more »


Gwendolyn: I don't want to be shut up, in that old car! I hate riding! I hate the chauffeur! I want to walk on my feet!
See more »


Referenced in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

America's Sweetheart
2 April 2005 | by CineanalystSee all my reviews

In addition to typecasting Mary Pickford as playing child characters, this role established her as America's Sweetheart. The 24-year-old Pickford plays an 11-year-old rich girl, who's neglected by her parents and is raised by nasty housekeepers and several personal schoolmarms. The only playmate she's allowed is a bore. Of course, every viewer sympathizes with the character's predicament, and Pickford gets the most out of that. The mud fight and tantrum scenes add some amusement between the more gushy moments and the great dream sequence.

Much of the credit here also needs to go to the screenwriter Frances Marion. Besides being a woman in a male-dominated business, she was one of the first scenarists to have creative control over productions. Like another female screenwriter, Anita Loos, Marion helped introduce the role of intertitles in silent film (as opposed to the tableau style of title cards only to introduce scenes). Both women also sometimes demonstrated their authorship with self-referential winks; Marion's "Armarilly of Clothes-Line Alley" and Loos's "Wild and Woolly" are two examples--where the authors expose their constructions with one intertitle.

Pickford does well to overcome the weirdness of an adult playing the role of a child. Moreover, the setting of a mansion, in addition to large props and tall actors accentuate Pickford's natural smallness, but more needed to be done about her adult figure. Director Maurice Tourneur and the film-making crew add appropriate, non-intrusive style to this sweet photoplay, providing Pickford with the most important vehicle of her career.

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