A recapitulation of motifs examined in M'LISS (1918), this extraordinary Mary Pickford vehicle offers surpassingly beautiful cinematography and a tour de force performance by the star. Kentucky mountain folk like Grandpa Hawn (Fred W. Huntley) don't set much store by city ways. Mavis Hawn (Pickford) lives with her mother, Martha (Claire McDowell), but...read more
A recapitulation of motifs examined in M'LISS (1918), this extraordinary Mary Pickford vehicle offers surpassingly beautiful cinematography and a tour de force performance by the star.
Kentucky mountain folk like Grandpa Hawn (Fred W. Huntley) don't set much store by city ways. Mavis Hawn (Pickford) lives with her mother, Martha (Claire McDowell), but sorely misses her father, who was killed en route to Louisville. Although sympathetic lowlanders like John Burnham (Fred Warren) selflessly come into the hills to teach rural students, others bring hidden agendas. Yankee capitalist named Morton Sanders (Henry Herbert), for example, misleads benevolently patriarchal Colonel Pendleton (W.H. Bainbridge) about his intentions and schemes with stooge Steve Honeycutt (Sam DeGrasso) to buy up farm land for strip mining. Mavis' best friend, Jason (Harold Goodwin), is Steve Honeycutt's stepson, but he can’t abide the bamboozler whom he knows has only married Mavis' mother in order to get control of the Hawns’ property. In the calm before the storm, Mavis and Jason attend a sociable with swells like Gray Pendleton (John Gilbert) and his sweetheart, Marjorie Lee (Betty Bouton). To both Marjorie's and Jason's dismay, Gray becomes enchanted with the spirited Mavis. Soon afterward, the townspeople discover they’ve been swindled and local vigilantes, including Mavis, who has by now been kicked off the family farm, seek justice at gunpoint. Mavis has an especially strong motive for shooting the loathsome Sanders, but the community is a tight-knit one and every member of the jury confesses to the slaying. Mavis is set free and accepts Colonel Pendleton’s compensatory offer to make her his ward; Jason leaves the village to seek his fortune, clearing the way for Gray sweep Mavis off her feet at least temporarily. But Jason hasn’t forgotten his childhood sweetheart and the Widow Hawn has a shocking revelation up her sleeve that could help shape Mavis’s future as well.
Pickford is breathtaking as the country hoyden who matures into a defender of the underdog, switching from comedy to pathos and sometimes doing it within the same scene. Milestone’s loving reconstruction of this silent film hit is marred only by the addition of an intrusive, twangy musical score that's more cliched than any element of the production itself.
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