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Mary Pickford Rediscovered Hardcover – May 1, 1999

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Editorial Reviews Review

In the days of silent cinema, Mary Pickford was unmatched in popularity. Known as "America's Sweetheart," she lived a fairy-tale life appropriate to such status--marrying Douglas Fairbanks at the height of both their careers and living in the legendary mansion called Pickfair (which she maintained until her death in 1979). The world's first superstar was best known for playing children, which her youthful appearance and acting abilities allowed her to do well into her 30s. She was also, however, an amazingly versatile performer as well as a shrewd businesswoman and film producer. Pickford was a founder of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences--she's credited with having conceived of the institution--and she cofounded United Artists with Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, and Douglas Fairbanks.

Today, it's a precious treat to view one of Pickford's movies, since silent cinema is rarely revived in the theaters and her films have only recently begun to circulate on video. But fans and film historians hungry for Pickford's talent will devour the hundreds of magnificent (and mostly never-before-published) photographs and production stills collected in this stunning tribute to the Hollywood legend. This lush book features 232 black-and-white photos and stills--many taken by some of the century's most talented still photographers and cinematographers.

Robert Cushman's detailed introduction discusses the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' arduous process of collecting the photographs, many of which were for decades believed lost. The main text, which limns Pickford's career and traces the photographs and films in chronological order, was composed by Kevin Brownlow, author, documentary filmmaker, and restorer of silent movies. Brownlow incorporates interviews with Pickford and her former colleagues, period accounts, anecdotes, and technical information about the process of creating a silent film. This gorgeous, fascinating title brings silent movies alive--even for those people who may never have seen one--and, most importantly, pays well-deserved homage to a woman without whose influence the film institution could well have taken a different course.

From Library Journal

The first comprehensive study of silent film star Mary Pickford, this lush photographic tribute is a testament not only to Pickford's monumental career but also to film curators and preservationists who, in efforts such as this, renew appreciation for their subjects. According to the authors, historian and filmmaker Brownlow and Cushman, the photograph curator at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), Pickford's legacy is ripe for reassessment: in effect, they argue, she single-handedly created the star system. Her art lay in pleasing her fans; her genius, in collaborating with the industry's best screenwriters, directors, and cinematographers. But as these pages show, her reputation for cloying little-girl portrayals belied greater versatility and business acumen. Brownlow's enlightening synopses, based on interviews and first-hand accounts, supplement the rare stills Cushman has culled from the archives of AMPAS. A stunning contribution to film history; highly recommended for large public and academic libraries.AJayne Plymale, Univ. of Georgia, Athens
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; 1st edition (May 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810943743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810943742
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 1 x 12.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #898,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bobby Underwood VINE VOICE on April 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
England's Kevin Brownlow brings to life America's Sweetheart, Mary Pickford, in this richly textured and insightful book featuring a myriad of lush and rare photographs chosen by Pickford expert Robert Cushman. Mary Pickford's contribution to cinema is seen in a new light here. Brownlow subtly makes the case that she not only was the most influential woman in the history of cinema, but a visionary force for the film industry itself.

It is difficult in today's climate of instant access to information to understand just how popular Mary Pickford was in her day. She was embraced by the entire world, and reportedly, every twenty four hours 12 1/2 million people saw her on screen. She perfected her craft in an era of film when very few people actually saw her natural acting style for the hard work and genius it was. George Cukor called her the first method actor.

Mary Pickford's career as an actress spanned decades. She did much for women with her strong business savvy and the roles she not only portrayed, but created. A very practical woman by all accounts, her films themselves reflected our better side as human beings and were often sentimental in tone. She didn't play weak characters as many of her contemporaries did. When people walked out of a theatre after seeing a Pickford film, they were often uplifted, feeling generous towards their fellowman.

Brownlow has done a wonderful job of bringing Mary Pickford to life as a three dimensional human being. With all the rare and beautiful photographs here to distract you it would have been easy to have an uninspiring text.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By PonyExpress on June 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
If you've browsed around to find this title, you probably know something about silent films, films in general, or Mary Pickford-and, make no mistake, you are going to love this book. If none of the above applies to you-yet-you are still going to love it! Mary Pickford was an actress of amazing charm and subtlety, very different from the image most of us have of her today, and even without a copy of one of her films nearby(you're going to want to seek them out), the photographs show it, and the wonderful text by Kevin Brownlow supports it. Put this one on your coffee table, and see how many of your friends are suddenly converted to an interest in silent films!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robert Badgley on February 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If you know nothing else of Mary Pickford just remember that she was an actress who's like we have never seen before nor since-someone without peer.
Born Gladys Smith in Toronto,Ontario,Canada she had a very tough childhood and in her very younger years found herself having to help support her family.These times were to steel her temperment and as she entered into show busines(on stage) her confidence grew as did her determination to succeed for her family and for herself.
In a few years time she had become very successful plying the "boards" of many major and minor vaudeville and playhouses in North America.When she stepped into the Biograph studios in New York City looking for "temporary" work between stage jobs and was introduced to legendary director DW Griffith,fate stepped in and Mary was to pretty much play out the rest of her acting career in front of the camera.
She was to go on to turn Hollywood on its collective ear obtaining more money,power and success no other woman before or since has ever achieved there.She could do it all and DID it; everything from tragedy to comedy and everything in between.
I recommend the reader purchase any of the DVDs now becoming available of her works.
In the meantime purchase THIS wonderful volume of her life in pictures annotated by film historian Kevin Brownlow.Handsomely bound and chock full of pictures dedicated to the first and best "America's Sweetheart".
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Susan Nunes on June 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is the latest book by the leading historian on silent cinema, Kevin Brownlow. Like all of his other works, it is outstanding. Mary Pickford is thought of mostly as the grown up woman who played little girl roles in films that are unwatchable today. However, this is not true. Pickford was an actress of considerable range, not to mention the fact she was a very shrewd businesswoman. She was and is one of the key figures in the history of film. Brownlow, more than any other writer, puts Pickford's career in perspective, and he spends the majority of the book providing detailed commentary about her films. Furthermore, there are many superb stills from her films in this book.
This book is for all lovers of film and should spark renewed interest in Pickford's life and films.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The king of silent film historians lends his name to this superb portrait of America's Sweetheart. I've been fortunate enough to have seen over a dozen of Pickford's films and this book is long, long overdue! Wonderful photographs and an excellent introduction for anyone to the greatest star there ever was. One hopes with this book and the upcoming Video box set, Mary will finally get the respect and adoration currently reserved for Keaton, Chaplin and Garbo.
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