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Stella Maris


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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Stella Maris shows Mary Pickford at the height of her fame in two of her greatest roles and is, therefore, one of Hollywood's greatest films. Pickford takes on dual roles: one as Stella Maris, a beautiful and crippled young heiress raised in luxurious isolation, and the other as Unity Blake, a homely, orphaned maidservant abused by her alcoholic employer, Louise Risca. Both Stella and Unity fall in love with Risca's long suffering husband, John. Realizing she can never have John, Unity makes the ultimate sacrifice.

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Mary Pickford plays two roles in this film; it is a testament to her phenomenal acting talent that we really see her as two completely different characters. In the title role of Stella Maris, Pickford portrays a lovely young woman, paralyzed from childhood, whose wealthy, aristocratic parents have kept her utterly sheltered from the ugly realities of the outside world. As poor little orphan girl Unity Blake, Pickford is literally unrecognizable.

Make-up, hair, and costumes help achieve this remarkable transformation. Stella Maris is radiantly pretty, with bright eyes and lips and flowing curls, decked out in ruffled white frocks. Unity is painfully plain: sallow-skinned and dull-haired, in an orphan's homespun, shapeless shift. But it is Pickford's extraordinary facility with body language--the true sign of a great silent-film actress--that makes each character so distinct and credible. Privileged Stella Maris's movements are always graceful and dainty, whereas Unity stoops and flinches, the victim of a lifetime of want and abuse.

Both characters fall in love with the same man, journalist John Risca (Conway Tearle), who is married to the abusive drunkard Louisa (Marcia Manon, who fairly oozes wickedness). John loves the comely Stella Maris, but "he can never be free as long as that woman [his wife] is alive." An ingenious plot twist takes care of that problem while neatly resolving the question of which Pickford character "gets the guy": Stella Maris, the wealthy and beautiful, or Unity Blake, the humble and homely. --Laura Mirsky


Special Features

  • Bonus Feature: Pickford's own film's of Liberty Loan drives with herself, Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin, along with home movies of Pickford and Fairbanks

Product Details

  • Actors: Mary Pickford, Ida Waterman, Herbert Standing, Conway Tearle, Marcia Manon
  • Directors: Marshall Neilan
  • Writers: Frances Marion, William J. Locke
  • Format: Color, Silent, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 18, 2000
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004S89T
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,316 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Stella Maris" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "darren_edwards" on May 28, 2001
Format: DVD
If you're not used to silent movies they can be a lot of hard work. I've spent a lot of time watching silent comedies (mainly Keaton, Harold Lloyd and L&H) but Stella Maris was my first drama.
One Sunday afternoon I put it in the DVD and tied my wife to the chair to watch it with me...no problem. Within minutes we were both mesmerized and 84 minutes later had experienced a truly wonderful film.
I'd read about Mary Pickford, but never seen her and really only bought this out of interest because I was reading Samuel Goldwyn's biography at the time.
The end result? An good, solid introduction to silent drama and Ms. Pickford and a good quality DVD to boot. Nicely restored with an understated soundtrack.
As a bonus there's some nice home movie stuff and news reels of Pickford at the height of her fame.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By "scotsladdie" on November 10, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
Confined to bed by a crippling illness, Stella Maris (Pickford) is sheltered to the point that all bad news is kept from her: she looks out on peaceful scenes and is visited by pets, children and a handsome journalist named John Risca (Conway Tearle). Risca's wife, Louise, is a drug addicted alcoholic who adopts a homely orphan named Unity Blake (also Pickford)..... This film is undoubtedly a classic. It could be regarded as a sincere and successful attempt to break through the shackles of melodrama. The fact that it was made in 1917 (it was released in January, 1918) is a tribute to everyone associated with it. The scenerio is intelligent, and although the picture has too many titles, they are all worthwhile. For years, the only surviving print had been a wretched 16mm dupe in which nearly all the quality of Walter Strandling's photography was lost. Fortunately, the Mary Pickford Foundation has restored the film from 35mm materials, and one can now be stunned by ravishing close-ups of Stella Maris, contrasting with the pathetic, distorted face of Unity Blake. Marshall Neilan's direction is of a high order, and although Marcia Manon overplays the role of Louise Risca, all the other parts area acted realistically. Supposedly, in a review from MOVIE WEEKLY, an exhibtor remarked - arriving too late to view the opening titles - "Mary Pickford's great, but she'd better watch out for the one who plays the slavey" (!).
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mr Peter G George on March 4, 2001
Format: DVD
Mary Pickford was not the most beautiful silent film star, but it is perhaps this fact which enables her to portray her two roles in Stella Maris so well. Her looks were somewhat unconventional. It is something else again, something indefinable which enables her to draw the viewer towards her. This film shows that she had acting ability in abundance, but by itself her acting ability cannot explain why it was that Pickford was the greatest silent star, perhaps even the greatest star who ever lived. She was a phenomenon. This DVD contains, as supplementary material, some newsreels of her selling war bonds. Pickford was the greatest draw for the crowds, greater than Fairbanks, greater even than Chaplin.
Stella Maris is one of the best introductions to Pickford's films not least because the viewer gets two Marys for the price of one. Her dual role of Stella Maris, a poor little rich girl, and Unity Blake, a Cockney orphan, is astonishing not because they appear on screen together (after all we get a whole cast of Buster Keatons in The Playhouse), but because they look so unalike. Stella Maris is the familiar Pickford persona, the young `girl with the curls'; Unity Blake is something altogether different. A title proclaims that she is Mary Pickford, but otherwise it would be easier to believe she were someone else entirely. Here is an unfamiliar Pickford, without a hint of sweetness. In the end, it is as if she has stepped out of a German expressionist horror story. We are left with an image of her eyes surrounded by shadows, which is more Murnau or Lang than Marshall Neilan. No wonder contemporary audiences found this film difficult. Today it looks like Mary Pickford's best.
The picture quality of this DVD is almost perfect. The colour tinting is muted and adds immeasurably to the atmosphere.
Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Auntie Kitten on August 2, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
This is an outstanding movie, with Mary Pickford giving brilliant performances as both the well-loved Stella Maris and the abused and unloved Unity Blake. She makes your heart break for Unity, and sometimes Miss Pickford looks so un-Mary-Pickford-like that it's hard to believe it's really her playing the role! Mary Pickford was one of the greatest talents in film, and her acting style is natural and moving---contrary to what many people mistakenly think silent actors and actresses were like. And the music score---a crucial element of silent films---nicely compliments the story. "Stella Maris" is a classic, and I'd encourage anyone to get it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Astrid Morgan on February 17, 2004
Format: DVD
Mary Pickford's skillful acting is highly evident in this exceptional film. She portrays two characters which are complete opposites. Stella is the beautiful bedridden cripple and Unity Blake is the ugly duckling of an orphanage.
The character Unity gives Pickford her meatier role, requiring her to take on the villain and be harrassed and beaten. In fact, Unity steals the show. She is a character of such depth that we long to watch her next move, in contrast to the Stella character, whose indisposition, naivety and sheltered existence render her incapable of much action.
No doubt the audience of the period, the unwavering Pickford fans, desired to glimpse the 'girl with the curls' and to this end the Stella character has a function beyond vying for the same man loved by Unity.
The villain in the film is Louise Risca who is a violent alcoholic who gains satisfaction by making others feel pain and unhappiness. Her end is satisfying to the audience because her dark hold on others is broken.A sense of relief is evident in the film.
The film comments on the theory that some characters are more expendable than others. It forces the audience to confront its own values when we do not feel a sense of loss when some characters achieve happiness through the sacrificial actions of another.
'Stella Maris' could equally have been called 'Unity Blake' due to the pivotal nature of the role played by her character.In many ways it is her film and it is her involvement which leaves a lasting effect in our memories.
A film which explores the psychology of its characters, 'Stella Maris', is well worth viewing.
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