It's Mary Pickford Week in Chicago | Bleader

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

It's Mary Pickford Week in Chicago

Posted By on 04.02.13 at 12:40 PM

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Mary Pickford (center) as Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall
  • Mary Pickford (center) as Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall
Tomorrow night at 7:30 PM, Northwest Chicago Film Society will present Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall, a 1924 period piece starring Mary Pickford, perhaps the most commercially successful of silent-movie actresses. The movie is an extravagant costume drama set in 16th-century England, with Pickford playing a noblewoman who finds herself in the middle of an international plot involving Queen Elizabeth and Mary, Queen of Scots. As NCFS programmer Kyle Westphal notes, the film is rarely revived, as it was "received indifferently by an American public that pigeonholed Pickford as an eternal juvenile and later dismissed and buried by Pickford herself." It was only recently, Westphal adds, that Dorothy Vernon was restored by Belgium's Cinematheque Royale—an unlikely intercessor for an American movie about British history.

If you attend tomorrow's screening you're sure to learn plenty more about Dorothy Vernon's star. The movie will be introduced by Christel Schmidt, editor of the recent volume Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies and coeditor of a history of silent cinema. Schmidt will also be at the Music Box on Saturday at noon to introduce the 1926 Pickford vehicle Sparrows. Further proof that the actress had trouble shaking her ingenue image, the movie stars a then-34-year-old Pickford as a teenager. Maybe Schmidt will inform us that, in addition to her achievements as an actress and studio head (along with D.W. Griffith, Charles Chaplin, and her husband Douglas Fairbanks, she founded United Artists in 1919), Pickford also discovered the Fountain of Youth.

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