Goga is a Russian man who has no luck with women. He has a chance meeting with Mary Pickford. She kisses him in full view of several and he instantly becomes attractive to them. They chase ...
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Goga is a Russian man who has no luck with women. He has a chance meeting with Mary Pickford. She kisses him in full view of several and he instantly becomes attractive to them. They chase him through streets, a la Buster Keaton in _Seven Chances_ (1925).Written by
Steven W. Siferd <email@example.com>
The Fall of the House of Romanov & the Rise of the House of Pickfair
A KISS FROM MARY PICKFORD was a comedy made to tie in with Mary Pickford's and Doug Fairbanks' tour of Europe. Everywhere they went, the crowds went mad and Russia was no different. When they hit a film studio, Mary did a short love scene with Igor Ilyinsky and this movie was scripted around it.
The story: Igor is an usher at a Russian movie theater that is playing Fairbanks' THE MARK OF ZORRO to an enthusiastic audience. His girlfriend, Anel Sudakevich, is an actress who is not particularly good. Wounded by a failed casting call, she turns on Igor and tells him that she only kisses movie stars.
Igor gets a card in the stunt man's union and a job at a studio, where they decide to make him the Russian Harry Piel. When Doug and Mary show up at the studio, she performs a short love scene with Igor and kisses him.
Igor high-hats the suddenly adoring Anel, but being a star is not easy. Maddened fans swamp him. Paparazzi won't leave him alone and his clothes are ripped off. In desperation, he washes off Mary's kiss and everyone leaves him alone. He goes back to his job as an usher. Anel and he, having learned their lessons, are now a happy couple.
It's a well-done comedy, particularly in the sequence in which Igor is a star. Yet is it as non-political as some of the reviewers believe? I think not. Movies about people dealing with the insanity of movie fans were a popular subject in Hollywood, but this is Russia we are considering. This movie carries as a basic political subtext that people should succeed by their own merits. Igor's importance is sanctified by Mary's kiss, which he preserves on his cheek with a transparent plaster; The Romanovs' rule had been sanctified by priests pouring oil over the Tsar's head and shown by the crown he wore. Although the latter is not mentioned, it was a constant political assumption of the Soviet era.
Was the parallel a deliberate, intended choice? It's hard to say. Every era's arts has its unspoken assumptions and conventions. Certainly it's something that would come up at a brainstorming session. It's a plot that was popular in Hollywood in the period. The next year William Randolph Hearst would bankroll his mistress, Marion Davies, in SHOW PEOPLE and there are dozens of others that don't spring immediately to mind. However, if the idea occurred to anyone, it would have been much more easily greenlit than, say, a story which, say Igor was a struggling actor unjustly ignored. In this scenario, Igor would finally be noticed by the people in charge and would displace his undeserving rival.
That movie would have been much tougher to get produced, not simply because the censor might have noticed the seeming approval of Mary's anointment, but because it probably would not have occurred to the film makers.
Every era has its assumptions which suffuse its art. Even ours.
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