Not too long ago I read some delightful Facebook comments by a teacher who was talking about how she occasionally showed silent films to her high school class (I think it was high school….maybe it was middle school…hmm…anyways.). She shared a funny story about the way her students reacted to a viewing of One Week (no one saw that last gag coming!) and mentioned a couple other silent stars her class had really liked.
But the one star she couldn’t quite talk them into watching? Mary Pickford. Apparently, they were a little leery to take that step.
Way too intimidating.
This is the slightly belated final post for Mary Pickford month (thanks, combo of extra time at work and Internet issues!). I really hope you enjoyed March’s extended tribute to a fantastic–and immensely important–early actress!
If we could take all the qualities that Mary Pickford’s work was celebrated for–drama, sweetness, comedy, tragedy–and sum them up with just one of her films, we’d probably mull over Sparrows or Daddy-Long-Legs, or perhaps her classic Stella Maris (1918). But if we were going to prove what an incredible actress Pickford was, we would definitely choose Stella Maris.
The mischievous Little Tramp, the all-American daredevil, the Girl with the Curls–in the late 1910s they were three of the most famous faces in the world. And back in that smaller, more laid-back Hollywood, they just happened to be close in real life, too. Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford’s marriage made them the cinema’s version of royalty. Doug and Charlie Chaplin basically had a bromance. The trio clowned for publicity cameras, travelled together, gave advice on each other’s films. To fans they must’ve seemed like the veritable Three Musketeers of the movie business.
Literally attending the premiere of Doug’s The Three Musketeers (1921).
And in a way, they were…up to a point. Charlie and Doug were practically inseparable, and Doug and Mary were arguably the loves of each other’s lives. But Charlie and Mary? Well… Continue reading
Typically, there’s a mere handful of Mary Pickford films that get discussed regularly, Stella Maris (1918), Sparrows (1926,) and Daddy-Long-Legs (1919) usually reaching the top of the list. But happily for us, Pickford was one of the hardest working women in Hollywoodland and left behind a generous filmography to explore. Seek and you shall find a number of gems–such as the quirky light comedy The Hoodlum (1919).
I’ve been dying to share the following posts for a long time, and rather than just hit “reblog” a few times and call it a day I’m going to give them a proper introduction!
As Mary fans know, she wasn’t the only Pickford in Hollywood. Her two younger siblings, Lottie and Jack, were also in the movies. Lottie had numerous (mainly small) roles in films from 1909-1912. Post-1912 her career became sporadic and her personal life grew increasingly messy (according to the more reliable accounts). Jack, on the other hand? He not only had a prolific career, but he became a star in his own right.
Motion Picture Magazine, 1917
If you asked me to recommend a good “starter” Mary Pickford film, one that captures her at her most Pickfordian (that can be a word, yes?), I would have to think it over. There’s so many classics to choose from…her Biograph shorts, features like Tess of the Storm Country (1914) and Daddy-Long-Legs (1919)…it’s a little like trying to decide which decadent cheesecake is the best. Every cheesecake is decadent.
Especially Mary’s recipe.
If I had to stick to short films, my choice would be The New York Hat (1912). But if I had to decide between her features, I might settle on the charming, funny Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917). Continue reading
Before Edwardian audiences knew her name, they knew the confident, talented young movie actress by a distinct feature: her curls. Long, lustrous and always impeccably arranged, they quickly earned Mary Pickford the nickname of “the Girl with the Curls”–a nickname which has, in one way or another, stuck around ever since.
“The Biograph Girl”! The title once belonged to Florence Lawrence, the first film actor to be recognized by name. But when Lawrence left the Biograph fold in 1909, the title passed on to a new ingenue: young former theater actress Mary Pickford.
Pickford’s Biographs can get overlooked, but they are wildly important to her career. Not only did D.W. Griffith’s tutelage help her learn the ropes of film acting very quickly–so quickly that the strong-willed actress soon began to insist on her own ideas for interesting performances–but during her time at 11 East 14th Street she fell in love with the movies. Continue reading
When you think of the figures in film history that are household names, several examples spring to mind: directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, and Orson Welles, and actors like James Stewart, Marilyn Monroe, and Marlon Brando. How about really early Hollywood names? Well, there’s Charlie Chaplin, you say. And also…well…err, yes, Chaplin.
But if there’s any name that (also) deserves a status in film history as large as the heads on Mount Rushmore, it’s DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS. Continue reading