This clip-laden documentary is mandatory viewing for fans of silent cinema in general and early star Pickford in particular.
Generally recognized as the first film actress to leap from mere stardom to internationally iconic status, Mary Pickford (1893-1979) cemented her legend with a storybook marriage to Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Yet her career began as nothing more than a means of supporting her family after her father's death.
Arduous barnstorming as a child player led Pickford to re-evaluate her goals, and as a teenager she cornered theatrical impresario David Belasco in his office in 1907 and begged him to transform her from a trouper to a genuine actress. He complied. Unlike other Broadway stars, the ambitious Pickford didn’t turn up her nose at the increasingly popular flickers. After an apprenticeship with
D. W. Griffith, who found her less malleable than Lillian Gish, Pickford hit her stride in such films as RAGS (1915) and STELLA MARIS (1918). A shrewd negotiator, Pickford always demanded her own production unit. When First National and Paramount weren’t generous enough, she co-founded United Artists Pictures with Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin. Her popularity was so astounding that even a disastrous early marriage to co-star Owen Moore and the inevitable subsequent divorce failed to alienate her fans. She attempted to expand her onscreen repertory, but her admirers liked her best as the plucky, resourceful children she continued to play when she was well into her 20s in such vehicles as REBECCA OF SUNNYBROOK FARM (1917) and DADDY LONG-LEGS (1919). Pickford's career faded with the coming of sound; she withdrew from public life, retreating to her mansion, Pickfair. Decades later, the re-release of her classics films proved that the persona she feared would date badly instead remained remarkably fresh.
Well-rounded and informative, this tribute details a pop culture achievement so immense that as to make the anti-climax of Pickford’s later years doubly sad. If writer-director Sue Williams' exceptional salute prompts the uninitiated to sample Pickford’s work, she deserves a pat on the back.
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- Released: 2005
- Rating: NR
- Review: This clip-laden documentary is mandatory viewing for fans of silent cinema in general and early star Pickford in particular. Generally recognized as the first film actress to leap from mere stardom to internationally iconic status, Mary Pickford (1893-1… (more)