The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917)

Article 5301 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-18-2016
Directed by Maurice Tourneur
Featuring Mary Pickford, Madlaine Traverse, Charles Wellesley
Country: USA
What it is: Comedy/Drama

The daughter of a businessman (who is too busy trying to make money on Wall Street) and a mother (who is obsessed with making it in society) feels isolated and lonely, and tries to find fun and joy in her life.

Mary Pickford was in her mid-twenties, but thanks to her vivaciousness, energy and charm, she manages to pull off the challenge of playing an eleven-year-old girl in this one; in fact, her charm is easily the best thing about this movie, which ends up being less than subtle in dishing out its moral lesson. Still, I do find the fantastic content to be rather interesting here. It doesn’t really fully come into play until the second half of the movie when the girl is almost fatally poisoned by a neglectful servant and has a delirious fever dream in which she sees several metaphorical phrases given physical manifestation; a woman who is two-faced has two faces, a servant described as a snake-in-the-grass is literally seen as such, and her father makes money using a huge machine that does just that. Some slightly odd touches here and there also add a bit of fun to the proceedings and keep things from getting too stodgy.


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