Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Heart o' the Hills|
Actor: Mary Pickford
Genres: Classics, Drama
Heart O' the Hills was one of four films Mary Pickford released in 1919 and the last she would make for a distributor other than her own. It was a tumultuous year for Mary, who was running her own studio, forming United Ar... more »
Entertainment from the late Teens
Anyechka | Rensselaer, NY United States | 10/20/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."
There's Gold In Them Thar Hills!
Jason Liller | 06/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Regardless of what Milestone would have us believe, the chief attraction of this disc is the 1918 "bonus feature," M'LISS, a film that's fizzy with Pickford's particular effervescence. The story is a slight one, but Mary's characteristically generous performance as a western firecracker, Frances Marion's sweet-and-sour intertitles and Marshall Neilan's perfectly tuned direction combine to form M'LISS into a picture that's appealing in the extreme and a great first experience for silent film novices. Highly recommended.
When you're done with that, you may want to sample the other film on the platter, THE HEART O' THE HILLS. It's not a bad picture by any means, just a little more ponderous and a little less fun than M'LISS."
Need Better Music For Great Films
Samantha Kelley | USA | 11/06/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Heart O' The Hills is the first film presented on this DVD, a cute film about Mavis, a mountain girl who finds herself getting into trouble without really doing anything to deserve it. The role is energetic, but nowhere near as feisty as other Pickford characters such as that in the second film on this DVD, M'Liss. She maintains her femininity throughout the film but makes an appropriately dramatic transition during the "six years later" part. Pickford's co-star played by Harold Goodwin is quite the companion and compliments her role very well.
One of the strongest scenes in the film is the dance sequence, a funny and cute romp that shows off Pickford's penchant for pluckiness.
This film is filled with beautiful scenery, but it is somewhat under-dramaticized by the strange contrast. Perhaps the tinting was not done correctly. The film is also somewhat damaged in places.
The worst part of the film is a score by Maria Newman which is terribly distracting and hardly fitting for the film. There are times when it is adequate, almost good, but in breaks a strange sound effect that ruins it. Perhaps Newman was trying to be unique, bringing a combination of traditional scoring and modern music together, but she failed miserably at producing a decent finished product.
Regardless, no amount of bad scoring could ever ruin a Mary Pickford performance.
M'Liss features the Mary Pickford that fans have by now become accustomed to. She is fun, young, spunky, full of personality, and motherly. The story is reminiscent of an amalgamation of other films such as Tess of the Storm Country and Little Annie Rooney. It is about a little uncivilized girl who finds someone dear to her murdered and another loved one accused.
There are several funny scenes in this film, especially those involving M'Liss in the classroom. They exhibit a mature humor similar to that from The Little Rascals.
The camera work in this film is lovely, with several gorgeous close-ups. For Milestone, the print is a little less than average what with the scratches and artifacts, but in general, the print is good and highly watchable.
Unlike the music for the first film, this score was composed and performed by Donald Sosin and is very appropriate.
The few special features on this disk are still galleries for each of the presented films and an Adobe Acrobat article watchable only through a computer. The still galleries are nice because they feature posters, lobby cards, and rare stills, but they are a hindrance on small television screens because they have been miniaturized. Also, the vibrance of silent film photography is lost."
A Pickford Country and Western Double!
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 05/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Thanks to Milestone Films once again for another enjoyable Mary Pickford DVD, this one with two full length feature films, the first with a Country theme and the second a Western, both showcasing Mary's wide-ranging talents. In both films she plays a real wild child, but always with an irresistible charm and innocence which endeared her to the public, even when she was swearing, shooting and firing rocks with a slingshot, as she does in these two interesting films. The main feature, "Heart O' The Hills" really captures the feel and the characters of mountain folk in Kentucky, complete with colourful language (which might take a little getting used to at first) and a new orchestral score - a combination of classical and traditional Country/Bluegrass tunes - as well as some other sound effects. While music is a matter of personal taste, I found that it matched the setting and story the film perfectly, and together with Mary's convincing performance, the viewer gets the full impact of the mentality, way of life and the problems facing these mountain dwellers. And as in real life, peace in `them thar hills' is disrupted when greedy city businessmen cheat the naïve folks out of their land, and Mary finds herself in the middle of it all. Also close to real life is the plot of the second film, "M'liss" (=Melissa) which has a distinct Wild West flavour and concerns two city people's cunning scheme to steal an inheritance which turns out to belong to M'liss once her father had been murdered. Around 1919-20, many films suddenly became more sophisticated and artistic, making silent films of the 1920s generally more popular with audiences today, but while lacking the smoothness and style, pre-1920 films usually have a very good story with suspense and drama, and "M'liss" is a good example. Coming right after a high quality production like "Heart O' The Hills", and with only a piano accompaniment, "M'liss" might appear inferior, but I still found the story and Pickford's entertaining performance as good as any of her later films, and a good choice to add to the main feature film. There are also two short but very interesting stills galleries to enjoy, and all up, surely a must for all Pickford fans and anyone curious to see her in other types of roles."