When Mary MacLaren was spotted by director Lois Weber standing with a group of extras, she never realised what a life changing event it would be. As Mary recalled, she often walked to the Universal Studios to save bus fare and one day Weber came across her looking pretty bedraggled, looked down at her feet and exclaimed "Shoes"!! - Mary didn't know what she meant!! Lois' husband Phillips Smalley recognized her from small roles in "Where Are My Children" etc, he started to tell her about a story they had found in "Colliers" magazine and gave it to her to read. By being cast in "Shoes" Mary was elevated from extra to leading lady and Weber had nothing but praise for her, saying "she was the luckiest find I ever made". She also told the "Motion Picture World" that "when the movie was run, everyone in the room fell in love with her. She was only 16 but is the most sensitive and intelligent girl I've ever directed".
Mary MacLaren was an amazing find, she was a natural actress in the
Mae Marsh tradition. She was a standout as Eva, the
breadwinner of a poverty stricken family in which the father sat about
and read magazines all day. She is desperate for a pair of shoes to
replace the ones which have been worn threadbare in her daily struggle.
Every night she cuts out cardboard soles, careful that she doesn't strain
the already worn out leather. Then comes a week of rain - not only are
Eva's shoes wrecked but she soon becomes seriously ill because of
standing around in wet shoes all day. She is praying for the day when
her mother can give her money for shoes but week after week she is
disappointed. She becomes desperate.... Meanwhile her friend from the
notions counter is enjoying a very different life because she is free with
her favours. Her man of the moment - a sleazy cabaret singer has his
eye on Eva and invites her to "The Blue Goose"....
Directed with Weber's style and attention to detail, the viewer experiences
the poverty and desolateness first hand, the end scene is particularly
chilling. The scene where Eva just about to go out on that fateful night,
and views herself through a cracked mirror.
Weber's predictions of Mary's stardom came true but she performed best
under Weber's guidance - without her Mary was reviewed harshly by
critics. Lacks personality, acts mechanically, lack of beauty and never
smiles were some of the comments. Who would smile having to read those
reviews!! Unfortunately her older sister wanted a career and also took over
the management of Mary's with disastrous results. Still Mary could always
point with pride to her career highlight of "Shoes".
14 out of 16 found this helpful