Customer Reviews: The Love Light
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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The Love Light is an excellent Mary Pickford vehicle that packs incredible amounts of action and adventure into the total running time of 89 minutes. This taut drama focuses on the life and times of Angela Carlotti (Mary Pickford) just before the First World War, during the war and thereafter. The acting is rather good although there are a few times when some of their "faces" are exaggerated; and the plot held my attention every step of the way. The music that goes along with the film could have been better but it doesn't truly lessen the value of the film.

When the action begins, Angela Carlotti is seen with her brothers Mario (Eddie Phillips) and Antonio (Jean De Briac). They tease the amorous Giovanni (Raymond Bloomer) who pines away for Angela even though she does not return his love. Unfortunately, war breaks out and Angela's two brothers go to serve much to Angela's chagrin.

At about the same time, Angela works at the local fishing village lighthouse and one morning as she returns home from her night shift she discovers a stranger who has somehow managed to save himself from the ocean; and he asks her to hide him because, as he tells her, he's an American deserter. What Angela doesn't know, however, is that this man Joseph (Fred Thomson) is actually an enemy German spy. By the time Angela finds out that Joseph is a fraud, they have been married and she has hidden him from the Italians in the village for much too long. Giovanni is off to war, too, while all this goes on.

Many questions remain: what will happen to Joseph when the villagers discover he's really a German spy? How will Angela cope with her newborn baby girl conceived during her brief secret marriage to Joseph? Maria, another woman in the village, wants a baby badly--will this cause any trouble? What about Angela's strife after she learns both of her brothers are dead from the war? And how does Mario, Angela's younger brother, really die? Does Mario die in the war or at some other time? No plot spoilers here, folks--you'll just have to watch the movie to find out!

I agree with reviewers who write that the blue tinting for the outdoors at night scenes is just too blue. You can barely see Mary Pickford on the screen! The print is rather good considering its age but that musical score really should be replaced--it made it somewhat more difficult at times to keep up with the action in some scenes.

The DVD has no extras but the film stands on its own very well.

The Love Light is a magnificent Mary Pickford film and it's great to see so many other talented actors play their roles so convincingly. I highly recommend this film for fans of Mary Pickford and silent movie buffs will enjoy this as well.
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on August 6, 2000
This release gives us a film, not just with America's Sweetheart, but written and DIRECTED by Frances Marion who wrote more screenplays than any other woman in screen history. It's a wonderful love story about a woman who falls in love with a stray (AWOL) soldier who she thinks is American. But he turns out to be German. Not a comedy. Nice print, nicely restored. The musical accompaniment starts out quite nice and eventually nearly drove me crazy. But you can always turn it off. The film is worth it.....
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on September 3, 2001
The Love Light is a good Mary Pickford film with an interesting story. It is set in Italy during the First World War. Pickford plays Angela and shows, with this role, that her acting was not at all limited in scope. The standard image of `Little Mary' is of someone who always played cute girls, as if she was some sort of silent Shirley Temple. Granted there were a fair number of little girl roles in Pickford's career, but there were also many films, like The Love Light, where she played fully realised adult characters. But whether playing children or adults, she always made the audience care about her. This ability to evoke sympathy is the secret to Pickford's acting and the reason why her films can still be such a wonderful emotional experience. As Angela she has moments of great comedy, including a very funny dance sequence, but what makes this role so special is the dramatic acting. Pickford shows the despair of wartime life. A scene where she almost descends into madness is truly harrowing. The film's story may at times be a little creaky and implausible, but Pickford carries the audience with her so that holes in the plot are quickly forgotten.
The print used for this Milestone Collection DVD is fine. There are some visible scratches and at times the image is a bit dark. This may be the fault of the colour tinting which has been added to the print, for in the night scenes, the blue tinting seems overdone. I'm all in favour of tinting, but it has to be done in a subtle way. There are also some scenes where the image has faded and the picture appears washed out and lacking detail. Nevertheless, and for the most part, the print looks good and sometimes stunningly beautiful. This is especially the case with some scenes looking out over the Mediterranean with the sun glistening on the sea. Maria Newman has provided a chamber music score to accompany the film. I quite enjoyed it, although I recognise that some people will not. Her music style does not always obviously fit the mood of the film and the score has some strange moments. The Love Light may not be one of Pickford's very best films, but it is entertaining and a must for her fans.
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on October 2, 2006
Although this film starts out lighthearted and charming, depicting the lives of simple country folk in Italy, complete with the type of light comedy so often found in Mary Pickford films (she really had a natural talent for it), it soon turns much more serious and dramatic in scope with the outbreak of WWI. Mary's character, Angela, finds out that one of her two brothers has been killed in action on the very day her other brother is shipping off to the military, and soon afterward her boyfriend Giovanni goes off to fight as well. To keep her mind occupied, Angela puts all of her effort into running the lighthouse near her house (they live right on the coast). It is while running the lighthouse that she finds a young soldier bobbing about in the water near the shore. When she rescues him from drowning, he tells her he is an American and that she shouldn't call for help but should instead hide him because he's a deserter and is afraid of getting caught. His reason for why he deserted sounds plausible enough, so she hides him in her house. Eventually Angela and Joseph fall in love and are secretly married. Joseph is played by Fred Thomson, in his debut screen appearance. Though largely forgotten today, he was the husband of Frances Marion, the screenwriter and director, and soon after this became a huge star in Westerns. Sadly, he died of tetanus in late 1928, only 38 years old, on the eve of transitioning to sound and becoming an even bigger star with his place in cinematic history assured. This is also the only one of his films that's publicly available.

All is not as it seems in paradise, however, and shortly after their marriage Angela learns of Joseph's real identity, and of the fact that what she assumed was an innocent love signal from the lighthouse was actually a message to German ships to attack an Italian boat bringing wounded soldiers to safety. Things don't go very well when it is discovered that she has been harboring a spy, and to make matters worse, Angela was left pregnant, even from this rather short marriage. After this there are even more twists and turns, with the viewer thinking things are turning out well for her one minute, then feeling that this movie isn't going to end very happily at all after all. It's a real emotional powerhouse, right up there with the likes of 'Sparrows,' 'Stella Maris,' and 'Tess of the Storm Country.' Some modern people might complain that there's too much drama, or melodrama, or unbelievable plot twists, but one must consider that this takes place during a war, giving credence to some of these characters' motivations or less than ordinary happenings. And as usual, Mary really makes the viewer feel for her character, really bringing the character to life and living her role.

The print isn't top-notch quality; it's entirely possible that it could have had more digital remastering instead of looking that way because it was too deteriorated in spots to do much of anything with it, but it's not as though it's unwatchable. Someone who loves old films should be used to less than perfect prints instead of complaining that they're not all crystal-clear. Isn't it better for these films to still be around than for them to be lost or in such bad shape that they really are practically unwatchable? I also found I didn't really mind the Maria Newman soundtrack that much. Overall, I found it kind of schizophrenic, with some sections that seemed to be appropriate or at least okay for the scenes they accompanied, but with other sections that sounded almost like they were meant for a horror or sci-fi movie. However, I didn't hate it, and I didn't find it as hideous as others have. It seems like she's just one of those composers who's not going to be everyone's cup of tea. And if one doesn't like the soundtrack, there's always the option of just turning it off, since the movie is so incredible that it might even have the same powerful emotional impact devoid of accompanying music.
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on April 3, 2010
At first glance, "The Love Light" already boasts two of the biggest female names of early Hollywood, namely `America's Sweetheart' Mary Pickford, starring in a film written and directed by Frances Marion, one of early cinema's best known screenplay writers. Her writing extended beyond the realms of screenplays and movies however, and this flair for elegant wording and solid storylines becomes apparent very early in this movie. There are many intertitles which are a delight to read, all of them balanced with equally pleasing scenes of playing animals and a baby, and stunning scenery of a rocky coastline and a charming old-world village. Set in Italy at the time of the First World War, Mary Pickford plays a local girl with two brothers who are both killed when they go off to war. The opening of the film shows the happy, carefree life the people of the village led until a distant war tore their lives apart and caused long-term emotional damage. Mary's character, Angela, endures a particularly turbulent time when she rescues a man from the raging waters of the Mediterranean one night, believing his lie that he is an American sailor and falling in love with him, only to find out later that he is, in fact, an enemy German who has used her to help sink some Italian vessels off the coast. But his death at the hand of the villagers is not the end of her ordeal. She gives birth to his child, and in the aftermath of war and its broken families, more heartache ensues until she finds a happy outcome. Mary plays her role with depth and passion, while Frances Marion's direction gives the movie an overall beautiful and elegant feeling, without hard or fast editing or camera work, but rather placing the emphasis on drama, emotion, visual beauty, style, story and, last but not least, the strength of the main character, Angela, who endures the trials no doubt many women suffered during wartime. The picture quality is very good for the most part, and has some colour tinting when appropriate. The musical score is orchestral, featuring piano, trumpets and strings, in a contemporary modern classical and jazz style which might not be to everyone's taste, even though it is a good interpretation of the film's moods and scenes, and did not distract from my enjoyment of the film.
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on October 20, 2011
Another Mary Pickford can you dislike anything she is in? But this one is only fair. The plot is superb (They should remake this today) but the video is kind of poor quality...a lot of dark scenes where it is hard to see what is going on. In some cases, it gets confusing who is who. Worth watching if you are in to silent films, but if this is your firsat venture into the silents, I would recommend The General, or if you want to see Mary Pickford, then perhaps My Best Girl.
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on February 16, 2016
Slow slow slow
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on December 8, 2015
Mary Pickford
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on November 4, 2015
Great movie
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on October 13, 2000
i saw this on turner classic movies a few months ago and i was blown away. such a sad, beautiful story. i was so wrapped up in the story itself, that i didnt really pay attention to the music. if someone who loves silents and/or mary pickford didnt enjoy this one i would be greatly surprised.
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