23 July 2006 | boblipton
A Work in Progress
The work meant here is the work of restoring this movie, since it did not exist in any sort of coherent form for many decades -- until the folks at UCLA got their hands on a version that the Soviet film archives, Gosfilmfond had held for many years, intended as a feature on how the upper classes in America mistreat the lower classes -- from which they had removed all the jokes. UCLA turned out a version that could be followed, including a lot of stills, in 2001, but more clips have been identified and they intend to continue working at building up a comprehensive version.
And well they should, since Mabel Normand gives a wonderful performance and the script makes a good deal of sense. Molly is the daughter of a working man who is dissatisfied with the life she sees in front of her. Her father is a good man, but has his own ideas of what is proper, and Molly wants more: love, respect and a useful life. Her only confidante is a man who makes silhouettes, played with compassion by George Stockdale, who acts as Molly's fairy godfather in this Cinderella story. Yes, it is incomplete, and the missing sections make one ache for what is gone, just like the restored edition of Capra's LOST HORIZONS. But the warmth of the performances make up for a lot.
The one real trouble is that a tacked-on thrill ending, involving a daring parachute leap from a dirigible... clearly tacked onto a complete and charming story.
I look forward to seeing further restoration work on this movie. Even as it exists, it shows a good deal of charm. The performances are excellent. What a pleasure to see Miss Normand actually act!