quiet_curiosity: (Heart)
quiet_curiosity ([personal profile] quiet_curiosity) wrote2011-04-16 11:22 am

Sparrows (1926)

Summary: Molly is the eldest child on a swamp surrounded "baby farm" and it's her duty to keep moral high among the brood. But when complications arise from Mr. Grimes acquiring a new baby, Molly realizes that she and kids can no longer stay put.

Starring: Mary Pickford, Gustav von Seyffertitz, Charlotte Mineau, Spec O'Donnell, Mary Louise Miller, Monty O'Grady, Billy Butts, Jack Lavine, Billy Jones, Muriel MacCormac, Florence Rogan, Sylvia Bernard, Mary Frances McLean
Directed by:William Beaudine

Viewed Via: TCM/DVR
Current Commercial Availability: Sparrows (R1 - Milestone/Image - Amazon has it as OOP)

1) Pickford is good here. She's given ample opportunity to do her brand of comedy but she also gets to mix it with the drama. While the film ladles on its tragedies pretty thick, Pickford is able to rise above.

As for still playing the kid - I could easily imagine her as an older teen in this. I'd be surprised if we were to imagine her as anything younger.

2) I really liked the older kids. Everyone had a lot of personality and moxie. These kids refused to beaten down by a life that's trying its hardest to do so.

3) The kidnapped baby? My opinions are mixed. I'm not much of a baby person. As one of the kids said: if you've seen one, you've seen them all. But I was initially really bothered by what she brought to the story. Molly is just so gaga for this pudgy, Annie-headed baby that she seems to forget about the sick and starving baby for which she was already caring. And then that baby dies that night. While there was a certain amount of hokum with that scene (Jesus literally comes down and takes the baby away), it was heartbreaking to know it wasted away (the child goes slack and one point) and then see Molly's sadness and then acceptance of divine providence. Divine providence salving the death of a baby was bad enough. But then things are back to normal because OMG NEW PUDGY BABY!

That said, that pudgy baby does kick the escape plot into high gear.

3) The villains are great! Gustav von Seyffertitz is wonderful as the thin yet fearsome Mr. Grimes. If anything, the limping makes him more sinister. Charlotte Mineau exudes an apathetic evil as his wife. She knows those kids will lead to trouble but hell if she'd help them. Spec O'Donnell is the bratty Grimes son who revels in screwing with the kids. And then there's the SWAMP with the nasty, sub-tropical environment and copious amounts of quicksand(?) and alligators.

4) The great escape starts out harrowing and ends up kind of limp. I loved all the ingenuity that Molly and the kids showed while trying to maneuver around the swamp. They used so much of the environment to their advantage. And you really do fear for them as those last few kids try to make it across a breaking branch. After all, the movie had already killed a baby. No one (except Pickford) was sacred! Grimes eventually met his end in the swamp and it is quite the sight. But then Molly and the kids escape the swamp and end up on the original kidnapper's boat. There was so much hokey model work and it killed a lot of the tension.

5) In the end, the rich, pudgy baby ends back up with its rich, pudgy family but can only be soothed by the down home nursing of "Mama Molly". Molly is offered a job to nurse the baby and she'll take it but only if she can bring along the rest of her brood. I, for one, was annoyed that the rest of the kids would be forgotten until that moment. The pudgy baby has the ability to make a girl forget everything else.

So, I obviously had a few problems with this one. But I still enjoyed it. Pickford and the older kids are excellent and the film makes good use of its environment.

First Impressions Master List