This was considered a lost movie when Mary Pickford died. A copy turned up in the Cinematheque Francaise, as they so often do, and in cooperation with the Mary Pickford Foundation, the BFI, Flicker Alley.... oh, the usual suspects, it has been preserved, restored somewhat and made available on a Blu-Ray/dvd set. I looked at the dvd version. It's a handsome offering, with only a few imperfection on the print, and a handsome toning to the affair: golden for daylight, blue for night, red for interiors.
It's based on a novel and written for the screen by director James Kirkwood and Frances Marion. Mary is Fanchon, a poor girl of a French village. Her grandmother is supposed to be a witch, but Mary is a free spirit, running around in rags. She takes a shine to Jack Standing, but all of the young villagers despise her; she beats up real-life brother Jack Pickford, sticks her tongue out at real-life sister Lottie, saves Standing from drowning and finds his idiot brother and has a grand time romping around the wild in the Delaware Water Gap for the first half of the movie. Then, as so often happens, the plot eventuates.
It's the second Pickford vehicle that Frances Marion had a hand in writing (I don't count THE NEW YORK HAT), and Pickford gets a lot out of the 'waif' role. The two women would half a fruitful collaboration, and Marion would direct a movie or two for America's sweetheart. Still, things slow down in the second half, and Standing is pretty much a stiff all the way through. Costume design is partially to blame. With his knee pants, wide-brimmed hat and collar, he winds up looking like Grady Sutton; he performs his role with the lack of brio that Sutton put into his comic nullities.... but Standing is simply a nullity.
Still, it's always good when a long-lost feature of Miss Pickford shows up. I'm glad I saw it.
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