Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, June 19: MARY PICKFORD: THE MUSE OF THE MOVIES
Nicholas Eliopoulos’ tribute to silent film’s first bona fide star made its world premiere at Telluride in 2008. It went on to screen at the Pordenone Silent Film Festival and at the Hot Springs doc fest, among others.
Eliopoulos’ adoring portrait recounts the highlights of Pickford’s career, tracing the development of the child star into the industry’s first female mogul as a partner in United Artists. The path of her career, the doc argues, parallels the blossoming of the motion picture industry, moving from simple one-reelers to more complex features, from silent pictures to talkies, from unnamed, unheralded actors to the birth of the internationally recognized movie star, and from cheap, faddish entertainment to a lucrative celebrity-studded business. Illustrated with a steady stream of clips from among her nearly 200 films, the film offers viewers a too-brief peek into Pickford’s talent, while Michael York’s biographical narration does the heftier job of guiding viewers through decades of a singular career. If the film as a whole is too conventional, eschewing critical engagement for a nostalgic appreciation, one aspect, at least, makes it stand out – joining York as a co-narrator is Pickford herself, in the form of a running commentary assembled from a restored audio interview from late in the star’s life. This posthumous narration weaves its own spell, offering a whisper of what made Pickford “America’s Sweetheart” and inspired this love letter.