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Through the Back Door (1921)

Mary Pickford , Owen Moore , James Kirkwood  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Mary Pickford, Owen Moore, Isabel Vernon, Georgia Wilson, Lucille Carney
  • Directors: James Kirkwood
  • Writers: Charles Perrault
  • Format: Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Silent
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: May 3, 2005
  • Run Time: 52 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007NMKSU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #236,518 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Through the Back Door" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

The life of young Jeanne (Mary Pickford) changes dramatically when her widowed mother marries wealthy New Yorker Elton Reeves. Disdainful of children and jealous of the attention paid to his stepdaughter, Reeves convinces his bride to leave Jeanne in the care of Marie, the Belgian nurse who has helped raise her. Years later the guilt-ridden mother returns for her child. But the elderly nurse, desperate to keep her beloved Jeanne, lies and says that the girl has died in a drowning accident. When World War I breaks out and Belgium comes under attack by the Germans, Marie must send Jeanne to America for the girl's safety. When she arrives at the Reeves' huge estate, the poorly dressed Jeanne fears to approach her mother with the truth and instead ends up taking a job as her maid. But when a team of husband-and-wife con artists (Adolphe Menjou in one of his earliest roles) threatens her mother's marriage, Jeanne must find the courage to reveal everything and come to her aid. Intimately filmed, handsomely directed and with a Chaplinesque approach to the subject matter, Through the Back Door includes one of Pickford's finest moments: Mary invents a new and hilarious method for cleaning a muddy room...she straps scrub brushes to her feet and skates her way across the soapy floor!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fine Mary Pickford vehicles October 12, 2007
Through The Back Door is an exquisitely produced, well acted movie starring the immortal Mary Pickford. Mary gives a great performance as Jeanne, the cast aside daughter of a woman who remarries a selfish man who dislikes children. Look also for solid performances by Gertrude Astor as Louise Reeves, Jeanne's mother and Wilfred Lucas who plays Elton Reeves.

The action begins when little Jeanne's mother, Louise (Gertrude Astor), decides to marry a rather selfish and unfeeling rich man named Elton Reeves (Wilfred Lucas). Elton convinces Louise that to be happy they must live in America and leave Jeanne behind in Belgium with Jeanne's nursemaid, Marie (Helen Raymond). Louise dislikes it but eventually she agrees to leave little Jeanne behind in Marie's care.

Five years pass and when Louis comes to get Jeanne, Marie hatches a plan to keep Jeanne as her own. Jeanne and Marie have a strong bond and Marie couldn't bear to lose Jeanne. Marie lies to Louise and tells Louise that Jeanne drowned in a river and is dead. Louise greaves for her lost daughter and eventually the stress of it all takes a toll on Louise's marriage to the still selfish Elton.

Meanwhile, World War I breaks out and Marie feels forced to get Jeanne to safety in America with her birth mother. Marie and Jeanne have an emotional parting and Jeanne goes to America to find her mother. Along the way the kindly Jeanne picks up two orphaned boys stuck alongside the road; this helps to flesh out Jeanne's character as a good, motherly type of person.

Once Jeanne gets to America, she travels to her mother's estate but for some reason Jeanne can't bring herself to tell her mother that she is her lost daughter. Instead Jeanne settles for work as a maid at her mother's estate.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable! May 2, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Thanks to Milestone's wonderful efforts to restore many of Mary Pickford's films, a whole new generation is getting to know `America's Sweetheart' and understand why she earned this title. This great DVD has not one but two shining examples of Pickford's delightful acting style which captivated and charmed audiences in the 1910s and 1920s, and together with excellent musical scores, both films are a real pleasure to watch. Although Mary's role is quite typical in "Through the Back Door" as she plays first a 10-year-old and then a 16-year-old girl, the story of this film is particularly good and even quite suspenseful as we follow her adventures and attempts to re-unite with her mother. There are plenty of highlights, both in drama and comedy, as she plays a mischievous little girl on a farm, then as a young woman leaving war-torn Belgium to find her mother in New York. Suspense escalates when she is employed as a maid in her mother's wealthy home, and unsuccessfully attempts to tell her mother who she really is. Like most of Pickford's most popular films, "Through the Back Door" is essentially a heart-warming story about love and human relationships enduring hardships and finding happiness in the end, and while this film is no exception, I still found it particularly enjoyable to watch and rate it as one of my favourite Pickford films.

The second treat on this DVD is one of Mary's earliest feature films, "Cinderella", made in 1914, and although the picture quality is often rather faded and not as good as "Through the Back Door", the exceptionally beautiful musical accompaniment makes up for any visual shortcomings. Furthermore, the sets, characters and not in the least Mary's excellent portrayal of Cinderella also make this one-hour early feature film a delight to watch.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good Pickford film/s March 16, 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Very good dvd. Includes Through the Back Door which is a classic Pickford film in which she plays a coming of age girl first at ~10 and then ~16 years of age. As usual, she is able to pull off the little girl bit very well. she really was quite an actress who chewed up the screen in every scene she was in. Amazing screen presence. The story itself was quite "modern" in its portrayal of casual adultery in a couples' life. Pickford adequately portrays the type of woman every woman would like to be; free and spirited. Perhaps this is why her movies appealed to both sexes. so few actresses today successfully have done this. And Pickford managed to do it in a time when women had still not attained equality (in fact not even vote!). I won't go into the story because it isn't important. Pickford made the film, not the story.

Cinderella is the other film (bonus) on the dvd. This one delights on two levels: Pickford (of course) and the story which was far more faithful to the Grimm tale than any of the modern pieces I have watched. Having said that, it was a bit antiquated in its portrayal of fairies and sets, but overall was a splendid work. Watch for the strikingly modern stop-action "nightmare" cinderella has after she goes to sleep after coming home after midnight!

If you're a thoughtful person who enjoys emotional justice, then you should buy this dvd. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet Double Feature May 20, 2006
Through the Back Door is a very sweet Mary Pickford film from 1921. It begins with a rich family; the mother of a little girl is planning to marry a wealthy man. He does not like the child, so she gives the little girl up to her maid who takes her in as her own. We see the little girl (Mary Pickford) as she gets older, about ten years old, doing all sorts of hilarious and cute things. She gets into trouble, but she has plenty of fun along the way. Later, her mother comes back to claim her, but the poor woman has grown so attached, she claims the little girl has died. Fate brings the two back together again. This is a great little melodrama and a perfect vehicle for Pickford.

1914's Cinderella is included as an extra feature. The way the story is delivered is very antiquated, but it gives it a nostalgic feeling. Mary plays Cinderella and her first husband, Owen Moore, plays the prince. The print is okay although it has a lot of scratches still, and the score is decent outside of the annoying periodic vocals. It is interesting how developed the technology of film was at this point in time; it uses double exposures and dissolves many times. This film is not one to watch constantly since everyone knows the story and it doesn't have anything extra-special to offer, but it is a nice curiosity to supplement the first film.
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