25 November 2016 | Quinoa1984
Melodramatic with a gigantic capital 'M'.
This time, with the New York Hat, there are things that are dated about it - a woman buying a TEN DOLLAR HAT? WELL I NEVER (I can almost hear the townspeople say) - but there are some things that remain today sadly, and in large part that's the facet of people who gossip. The women of the story cause a lot of the trouble for the main character, a woman who at the start loses her mother to some illness but the mother left a note saying that she should get a "sum" of money for something she would like and so the town Priest sees this letter (her big-chin-bearded father doesn't) and buys the hat for her, all because they likely say to themselves, "Hmm, she thinks she's cute!"
The funny thing is, Mary Pickford was adorable (especially here, something about her is so vulnerable and light and sweet to look at), so it's a delight to watch this film even as Griffith turns the dramatic screws to such a degree that it almost becomes laughable. If people come to this today the reaction will be "so what, it's a hat, who cares?" I'm sure in this time period such an extravagance was seen as a giant WTF, especially to conformist society "B words" who couldn't see someone else being happy without it affecting them. So while the dramatics are possibly too high - but then again that's Griffith - due to what is going on and her backstory, the main core of the story works still today, and Pickford sells it every moment she's on screen.
Her character has our sympathy from the start, and there's even a nice comment on small-town small-mindedness that I think holds up best of all. The title itself suggests city vs rural life, that such an extravagant hat is too far beyond what a person like young Mary can have, or at least that's what society implicit;y or overtly demands (including her father, who gets the most over the top moment of cruelty when he destroys the hat). So I liked it for its strengths and tried to look past its weaknesses.