Evil Mr.Grimes keeps a rag-tag bunch orphans on his farm deep in a swamp in the US South. He forces them to work in his garden and treats them like slaves. They are watched over by the eldest, Molly. A gang in league with Mr. Grimes kidnaps Doris, the beautiful little daughter of a rich man, and hides her out on Grimes' farm, awaiting ransom. When the police close in, and Mr. Grimes threatens to throw Doris into the bottomless mire, Molly must lead her little flock out through the alligator-infested swamp.Written by
John Oswalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Although William Beaudine received critical acclaim both inside and outside the film industry for his direction of this film, for many years a story circulated that star Mary Pickford felt that he was too cavalier about the safety of the actors, especially in a scene where she had to carry a baby across some water filled with alligators (Pickford wanted to use a doll, but Beaudine insisted on using a real baby), Pickford swore that he would never work for her or her company as long as she lived. However, cameraman Hal Mohr, who shot this picture, said in an interview that the "alligator incident" never happened. He said "There wasn't an alligator within ten miles of Pickford! Do people think we were crazy?" Mohr explained that the studio would never have let a star of Pickford's magnitude endanger herself by working with real alligators, let alone allow a baby to go near them. The effect, Mohr said, was done as an intricate double exposure, with the live alligators filmed at one time, and Pickford and the children filmed at another time. In any case, Beaudine and Pickford did clash on the picture. Beaudine eventually walked off the set and turned the direction over to his assistant, and he and Pickford never worked together again. See more »
A newly tinted version of this movie was copyrighted in 1976 by Killian Shows, Inc. and distributed by Kino International. Restoration was done by Karl Malkames and an original piano score was composed and performed by William Perry. See more »
Although this is Mary Pickford's film, it also presents Von Seyffertitz with the best role of his career. Needing little in the way of make-up, the gaunt actor adds to his frighteningly sinister appearance by flourishing his claw-like hands and limping in awkward yet forceful strides. Child actor, Spec O'Donnell, who usually played comic roles, is also most effective. But it is, of course, Mary herself who focuses most of our attention, not only in the hair-raising scenes in which she is pursued by Grimes but in the many heartrending sequences in which she protects her "sparrows".
William Beaudine later became Hollywood's number one hack, but in silent daysindeed until around the mid-1930she was a very polished director who could not only draw great performances from his players but add immeasurably to a film's atmosphere and visual effect. Here, his compositions are indelibly terrifying.
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