29 November 2018 | gbill-74877
Great biography of an amazing woman
An excellent overview of Mary Pickford's life and career. Aside from her endearing screen presence that made her so popular and 'America's Sweetheart', she was a shrewd businesswoman and real pioneer. This documentary does a great job of blending clips from her films and personal life with audio of Pickford reflecting back on her career. Just one example of brilliant footage shown is a bit that was actually cut from the 1926 film 'Sparrows', which had a large transparent angel hovering over Pickford and reaching out to her. There are countless others in what is a visual feast.
We get insights into her associations (D.W Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Amelia Earhart, Adolph Zukor, Lillian Gish, Walt Disney, etc), the brilliant way she navigated her career from appearing in films as a teenager to co-founding United Artists, and her personal spirit, which was pragmatic, intelligent, and philosophical. It also gives us a little history lesson of the film industry.
At one point Pickford opted to take a percentage of the profits of her films and was told she was going out on a limb, and she responded by saying "Good, because that's where I want to be." It's refreshing to see this success story of a woman who had such talent both on and off the screen, and someone who was tough as nails, but without being arrogant or abrasive.
Where the documentary fails us a bit is by being over-the-top in its adulation. Michael York practically gushes in his sugary narration, and we don't get some of the darker aspects of this amazing woman's life - her struggles with depression and alcohol after walking away from her acting career. Those things don't diminish her in any way, and would have made the account more honest. As it is though, it's well worth seeing, and it's a nice springboard into Pickford's body of work.