8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Entertainment from the late Teens,
This review is from: Heart o' the Hills (DVD)
The stronger of the two films presented here is the main feature, 1919's 'Heart o' the Hills.' It's an incredibly cute, sweet, charming film about the lives, loves, losses, and struggles of the backwoods folk of the mountains (complete with the intertitles rendered in their backwoods vernacular). They wish to preserve their simple country way of life against the big city "furriners" who are trying to move in on them, buy up their land, bring their modern way of life to town. There's also domestic turmoil involved, with both Mavis and Jason (Jasie), the main characters, not getting treated so well at home and being too young yet to run away and get married, and Mavis being swindled out of her inheritance. The big city folks do prove to be sympathetic in the long run, though, as they take Mavis in and raise her, trying to make up to her how she was cheated out of her inheritance and how things haven't been so good for her at home since her mother remarried and she's been falsely accused of a crime she admits she was party to but didn't actually commit herself. Jason has also left town to try to polish up his own image and to become the type of man Mavis finds educated, refined, and appealing. Six years pass, and we see whether or not the wrongs of the past will be righted, if the childhood sweethearts will reunite or if Mavis will decide to marry her handsome suitor Grey Pendleton, who is played by John Gilbert in a very early starring role, back when he still professionally went by Jack and was only nineteen or twenty years old. All in all, a really charming fun movie, and presented in a beautifully tinted print. I know some people dislike Maria Newman's scores, but I found the score she created for this picture quite well-suited, apart from the music and sound effects used in the courtroom scene.
The other feature is 'M'Liss,' from 1918. I wouldn't classify it as top-notch Pickford, but it does have a charm to it, and it's great to see long-forgotten screen sheik Tommy Meighan playing her leading man, the schoolteacher whom she falls in love with and who is later falsely accused of a horrible crime we know he didn't commit. This film also uses intertitles rendered in the country vernacular, only this time the characters are out West and not in the backwoods of Kentucky. The reason I didn't find myself liking this film as much as the main attraction was because it took so long for the storyline to really build momentum and get underway, for the plot to really be established. For a long time I couldn't make out what the plot was supposed to be; it seemed more like events were just happening, more like establishing the characters and presenting little episodes in their lives instead of making clear what the plot was too. Once things do get underway, however, it does start to get pretty interesting, and is quite similar to that of 'Heart o' the Hills,' the innocent country people the victims of big city swindlers, the wrong person accused of a crime, a riveting courtroom scene. All in all, this disc is an interesting look back at the type of films people were watching in the late Teens.
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Initial post: Feb 16, 2011 11:28:59 AM PST
John "Silence is Golden" says:
Both are good films , if not top notch Pickfords - Poor Little Rich Girl, Stella Maris, and Daddy Long Legs all made during this time period are far superior flicks. Your mentioning of Thoma Meighan is apt - he may be the the most unknown male superstar in film history and hopefully will be rediscovered as more silent movies are exhumed and made avaliable on dvd - A nice review.
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