The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917): review


You know, I never saw a movie by Mary Pickford in my life before today. But I already had a certain admiration for her. Called “America’s Sweetheart” by the audience of the time, Mary Pickford is one if not the first woman to make a lastly impact on Hollywood. Even today there is a great talking about equality in Hollywood (strange thing if we think that it’d be obvious for our civil standards but it isn’t) and knowing the story of this great woman who won the affection of America, the primate in this new media, a spot of honour in the Olymp of movies and who fought for artists rights (i.e. United Artists) it’s quite helpful and illuminating. So, with this great admiration for her as a woman and as pioneer, I was exicited to watch some of her works! Today I finally had the chance. Let’s say that the title is really a funny one, playing on the trick of the rich that wants to be poor. There are two things that I really appreciate of this movie:
1) Mary Pickford herself. The spotlight is all hers. She plays convincingly the part of a eleven year old girl even if she was twenty five at the time! She is  really funny and has some really great expressions that made me laugh out loud;
2) The direction. The tricks made so Mary could look like a eleven years old girl are  clever and ahead of time though, obviously, when she’s in scene with the real children you can see the differences. I liked very much the effect of the camera rocking when Gwendolyn begins her hallucination;
But where great acting and notable effects ends a mediocre plot begins. I know that it’s a 1917 movie and that I can’t expect anything trascendental but with such fine things, it’s a shame we have this sterotypical plot. The theme is obviously the rich girl who wants true affection and not money, here named Gwendolyn. Her parents are quite horrible people, I mean it’s the usual stereotype of father full of work and mother full of social things to do, à la Mr and Mrs Banks, but here we haven’t flying nannies…only horrible parents! The movie keeps reminding us that poor Gwendolyn has an horrible life. The movie follows the typical plot but when Gwendolyn begins to hallucinate the movie becomes quite strange. The girls imagines to be in a forest and she nearly dies because a witch is following here. It’s unexpected for sure because the plot started normally and then it’s the chaos. The part is interesting though. When she wakes up her parents have a change of heart and promise to begin a new funny life for Gwendolyn. And that’s The Poor Little Rich Girl. The plot isn’t the best but I liked the movie especially for Pickford’s performance. Though of a thing I’m sure, I’ll surely watch Mary Pickford’s other works.