And America’s Sweetheart said, “None of your ?!%@!* business!!!” Animated GIF


Well, someone had to say it. Anyone who is under the impression that Pickford was all sweetness and light would do well to actually watch some of her films. Shirley Temple she ain’t.

Mary Pickford was in hellcat mode as a mining town kid in M’Liss. Directed by Marshall Neilan, it has quite a nice collection of Pickford moments and cute comedy. Unfortunately, it is undone by a silly plot and a rather sketchy romance. Still, no Mary Pickford film is without its charms and while M’Liss is not one of her masterpieces, it is still a fun bit of entertainment.

You can read my review here.

Availability: Released on DVD by Milestone as a double feature with another of Pickford’s feisty mountain pictures, Heart o’ the Hills.

Fun Size Review: Sparrows (1926)

Mary Pickford’s dark, rotting slice of Southern gothic is also one of her finest films. She plays a country teenager (one last time) who has to rescue a kidnapped baby from a violent gang. To do so, she and a determined band of children cross a swamp, complete with alligators. It’s exciting, suspenseful and the atmosphere is first-rate.


[toggler title=”How does it end? (click here for a spoiler)” ]Mary saves the day and ends up being adopted (along with her brood) by the child’s father.[/toggler]

You can read my full-length review here.

If it were a dessert it would be:


Homemade cola. The ingredients aren’t the prettiest but the results are smashing.

Availability: A restored, tinted print with an orchestral score by Jeffrey Silverman was released on DVD and Blu-ray by Milestone as part of their Rags & Riches Collection: The Films of Mary Pickford. This replaces their earlier solo release of the film, which is black-and-white and has an organ score by Gaylord Carter. The Rags & Riches box set release is a huge step up in quality and even features a brief but enjoyable introduction aimed at helping young viewers understand what silent films were and how to appreciate them.


The best romance is the one in your head. Animated GIF


The “coat hug” scene from The Artist is yet another nod to a silent era film. Most people think that the idea of a woman imagining herself being hugged by the owner of a coat originated with Janet Gaynor in Frank Borzage’s 7th Heaven. Nope. This is Mary Pickford in Stella Maris, made a decade before. Whether Pickford invented this bit of action is open for debate (lots of early films are lost and this may have been a stage trope) but, much though I love Janet, let’s not give her credit for Pickford’s work. Plus, Stella Maris is one of Pickford’s best films.

(You can read my review of Stella Maris here.)

Availability: The film was released on DVD by Milestone, the disc is excellent and features a very good score. There is also a DVD produced by CD Baby. I have not viewed this latter version.

M’Liss (1918) A Silent Film Review

Mary Pickford plays the title character in this wilderness curio. A wild youth living in a mining town with her father, the town drunk, M’Liss begins to appreciate civilization when she falls for the new schoolteacher, Thomas Meighan. Her life takes a turn for the tragic when her father is murdered and the crime is pinned on poor Mr. Meighan. It’s up to M’Liss (aided by the screen’s first Frankenstein monster, Charles Ogle) to save the hapless educator from a lynching.
Continue reading “M’Liss (1918) A Silent Film Review”

It’s my 1,000th post!


It’s true! I have published one thousand silent film posts on Movies Silently. Mary Pickford and I couldn’t be happier about the situation. Owen Moore isn’t sure but I wouldn’t put any stock in what he has to say.

In any case, thanks so much for reading and here’s to the next thousand!

(This is from Mary Pickford’s 1911 short film, The Dream, in which she teaches her wayward spouse a lesson. Well, in his dreams anyway. You can read my review of the film here.)

Availability: The Dream was released on DVD as an accompaniment to Pickford’s feature, Amarilly of the Clothesline.

Don’t make me throw a brick at your head. That’s not a metaphor. Animated GIF


Mary Pickford is famous for playing kids but the images of her in lace dresses really don’t capture what her child persona was like. Pickford didn’t enjoy playing sweet little things. She detested playing Pollyanna (even though she did it once). Pickford’s kids were hellions and rascals. They kicked, fought, spit and generally ruled the roost.

Here she is in Little Annie Rooney, engaged in a gentle dispute with the neighborhood bullies. (You can read my review of the film here.)

Availability: There is no really great version available, I’m afraid. Both available budget discs lift the score from Way Down East, which leads to some really weird moments and odd renditions of Jingle Bells during serious scenes. I don’t know about you but Jingle Bells is not really what I want to hear when Billy Haines is in danger of being shot. This movie is a prime candidate for the Silent Movie First Aid Kit.

Silent Movie Trivia #10: Little Annie Rooney (1925)

Click here to view in lightbox
Click here to view in lightbox

This time, we are going to be looking at trivia from one of Mary Pickford’s last child roles, Little Annie Rooney. She played a teen in Sparrows but this would be her last go at playing a grade-school tyke.

The history of the movie is interesting. Mary Pickford could not find a story that completely suited her taste so she did what any sensible woman would do: she rolled up her sleeves and wrote it herself. The result is a mixed back of cute antics and questionable ethnic stereotypes but leading man Billy Haines saves the day with his cheery, cheeky persona.

(You can read my review here.)

Availability: There is no really great version available, I’m afraid. Both available budget discs lift the score from Way Down East, which leads to some really weird moments and odd renditions of Jingle Bells during serious scenes. I don’t know about you but Jingle Bells is not really what I want to hear when Billy Haines is in danger of being shot. This movie is a prime candidate for the Silent Movie First Aid Kit.

Fun Size Review: Stella Maris (1918)

John has the role of nurturer.
John has the role of nurturer.

The tale of two women, both played by Mary Pickford. Stella is a beautiful invalid while Unity is an abused orphan. Both fall in love with the same man but he is trapped in an abusive marriage. One of Pickford’s darker films but still manages to have plenty of light touches, thanks to the direction of Marshall Neilan. The performances are first-rate and the picture has strong feminist undertones. Highly recommended.


(You can read my full-length review here.)

[toggler title=”How does it end? (click here for a spoiler)” ]Out of love and loyalty, Unity murders the abusive wife and then commits suicide, leaving Stella to pursue happiness.[/toggler]

If it were a dessert it would be:



Molten Bittersweet Chocolate Cake. Dark, bitter and sweet. An unforgettable experience.

Silent Movie Trivia Card #5: My Best Girl (1927)

Click to see in lightbox
Click to see in lightbox

This Silent Movie Trivia Card is about Mary Pickford’s last silent film, the 1927 romantic comedy My Best Girl, which was set in a dime store. Just as silent leading men were expected to get nautical at least once, silent leading ladies were expected to play dime store clerks at some point in their careers. Sometimes these two plotlines crossed. I’m not sure why this was but hear me out. (You can read my review of My Best Girl here.)

Buddy Rogers is best remembered for his role in Wings but he is charming in this film and clearly smitten with his leading lady. He would become Pickford’s husband in 1937, a decade after the release of My Best Girl. (Don’t you just love how the Wikipedia article takes careful pains to point out that he was younger than his wife? I mean, Joseph Schenck was sixteen years older than Norma Talmadge, Pickford’s contemporary, but does that get mentioned? Nope.)

Sexist? Moi?
Sexist? Moi?
The very idea!
The very idea!

It’s a little obvious, is all I’m saying.

Availability: My Best Girl was released on DVD with a really smashing Robert Israel score.

Mary Pickford flagrantly takes part in nose booping. Animated GIF


Though the 1914 version of Cinderella is a pretty dull affair, Mary Pickford does what she can with it. Our heroine’s footmen, you will recall, we transformed rats. Cinderella is a bit freaked about the general concept and is still not sure how everything worked. (The fairy godmother is not very good at explaining herself.) Thus, the nose boop. Well, actually a chin boop but you get the idea. (You can read my review of the film here.)

A brief explanation for international readers: If you are unfamiliar with the term, “booping” a nose is just what it sounds like. Touch the nose of a person or animal gently and say “boop” in a high-pitched voice. Generally, this is done with something or someone we deem cute or to whom we wish to condescend. In this case, Pickford engages in the far rarer curiosity boop. I do not know why we do this or how it started but it’s fun.

Availability: Cinderella is available on DVD from Milestone.

Fun Size Review: A Romance of the Redwoods (1917)

romance of the redwoods

Mary Pickford and Cecil B. DeMille combined forces for the first time in this romantic melodrama and the results are mixed. Elliott Dexter is a bandit. Mary Pickford is a little lady. Can they find love? Well, you know they can but what comes first is a rather dark and brutish wooing with a dollop of sleaze. Dexter plays the Good Bad Bad Man a little too well but the film is not without its pluses and the cinematography is lovely.

If it were a dessert it would be:

(via wikiHow)
(via wikiHow)

A Dirty Girl Scout. What else could it be?

Read my full-length review here.