Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Little Annie Rooney|
Actors: Mary Pickford, William Haines, Walter James, Gordon Griffith, Carlo Schipa
Director: William Beaudine
Genres: Classics, Comedy, Drama
Good film, good print, poor score
Mr Peter G George | Ellon, Aberdeenshire United Kingdom | 03/22/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Little Annie Rooney is a fine Mary Pickford film. She plays a young girl growing up in a rough neighbourhood. The film starts with gang warfare erupting between the kids of the area. These scenes are played mainly for humour even if the missiles they throw at each other are bottles and bricks. No one is seriously hurt and the fighting is good-natured. Pickford does well in this rough-and-tumble battle and shows the tomboy character that is present in many of her films. She can hold her own with any boy and is not about to back down from a challenge. The fighting amongst the slum children is contrasted, in the film, with the more serious and dangerous world of the adult gangster. Annie Rooney is on the brink of growing up and falls for a gangster played by William Haines. But the path of her romance is far from smooth as the film mixes comedy, sentiment and heartbreak in equal measures. Mary Pickford was in her thirties when she played Annie Rooney, but she could still be convincing playing a young girl. This is partly because she was so small. She is about the same size as the other kids and the adults tower over her. More importantly however, it is her acting which allows the viewer to believe that she really is still a child. The convention of adults playing children has passed into history and it may take some modern viewers a while to get used to it. But once you accept the convention, Pickford's charm and vitality sweeps you along and makes the story engaging, poignant and entertaining. Pickford's role in this film was not limited to acting. The story is credited to one Katherine Hennessey, but this "writer" was Pickford's grandmother who died in 1904. It was Mary who actually wrote the story. The DVD of Little Annie Rooney is from Terra Entertainment a company which I had not heard of before in connection with silent films. The DVD has a few faults, but on the whole is a reasonable effort and worth the price. The film seems to be complete and the picture quality is very good. The print is in black and white and has very little in the way of apparent damage. The images are clear and sharp with lots of detail. Unfortunately one brief scene, lasting about a minute and a half, is inexplicably repeated. This is a pity as it rather spoils what is a fairly crucial scene in the film. However the worst thing about this DVD is the score. The sound quality is pretty horrible. It sounds like snatches of music from old records, played on a gramophone. At times this music works well, but it does not carefully follow the action of the film and thus it can be extremely inappropriate. For example during a tense part of the film the score plays "Jingle Bells". I'm glad I bought this DVD, as Little Annie Rooney is a very good Pickford film and the DVD's faults did not spoil my enjoyment of it too much. It has to be said though, that there are better Mary Pickford DVDs available than this one."
Later Pickford fun, so-so budget disc
Gwen Kramer | Sunny and not-so-sunny California | 01/31/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although today Mary Pickford is mainly her known for her child roles, she was actually a versitile actress who alternated her parts accordingly. However, audiences of the time much preferred "Little Mary" to her more mature roles and so, to please her fans, Pickford concocted Little Annie Rooney and it was a huge hit.Pickford (then in her early thirties) plays the rambuctious preteen daughter of an Irish cop. The dirst act of the movie plays like an episode of Hal Roaches Little Rascals with Pickford's multi-ethnic gang battling fiercely with their rivals. However, there is trouble at home. Annie's older brother is hanging out with a grown-up gang, a groups of ne'er do wells who have pretentions of being big city gangsters.Meanwhile, Annie developes a crush on the big brother of her arch-rival. William Haines is appealing as Pickford's "grown-up" love interest (Haines was 25 at the time) Pickford's leading mean in the teens were often stodgy and boring next to her spunkiness and it is nice for her to play against a leading man who is equally energetic.As is usualy for a Pickford film, tragedy strikes and she is forced to save the day in the nick of time.This is not one of Pickford's best films but it is a very good one, showing her doing what she did best, NOT acting her age. The supporting cast is good although some of the ethnic stereotypes can cause some uncomfortable moments for modern audiences. And Annie's father is forced to speak (via intertitles) in a distractingly Lucky-Charms-Leprachaun-style Irish accent.The climax is a bit too sappy but Pickford knew her audience expected happy endings and delivered accordingly. These are really the only flaws in an otherwise charming movie.The same cannot be said for the disc packaging. While the print quality is pretty good (though, as another reviewer mentioned, a scene is repeated for no reason) the soundtrack is highly inappropriate. It was the 30's reissue soundtrack for the D.W. Griffith film "Way Down East" which, with it's themes of marriage and blizzards, utilized the wedding march as well as wintery tunes. This was fine for WDE but it is just terrible when played along with Little Annie Rooney.Budget discs often cobble together soundtracks out of classical records and I would almost prefer it to this. I can only suggest that viewers turn the movie music down and put on a CD or have a musical friend or relative play along with the movie.In conclusion, this is a fun, but not brilliant, later Pickford vehicle that delivers all the humor, sentiment and energy Pickford fans can expect. The movie is better than it's packaging.BUY IT IF- You're a Pickford fan
You like silent comedy
You want an entertaining, light, old movieYOU WON'T LIKE IT IF- You're into heavy drama
You don't like sentimental movies"
Astrid Morgan | Lilydale, Victoria Australia | 02/18/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In Little Annie Rooney, Pickford portrays a feisty, gutsy little character who beats up boys, throws fruit as missiles of war and is extremely resourceful.
Annie's father, Officer Rooney, disapproves of her fighting but she revels in it. Her attempts at denying her involvement are quite charming.
The film is a murder/mystery, involving an innocent character being blamed for the murder. Despite this darker touch, the film is often comedic. Annie's attempt at mounting a horse via flying fox are hilarious. Her protective device in a gang fight scene is a baby pram, from which she hauls well aimed missiles and she throws punches at grubby little boys with a ferocity which cannot but help make one laugh.
Pickford looks suitably childlike in her pom pom hat and little girl dresses but her character has undergone a maturation by the conclusion of the film, to the degree that she is prepared to sacrifice herself for someone she loves.
The film concludes warmly and happily, despite Annie's character having gone through difficult times. This film grossed more than Pickford's previous two, being the typical Pickford characterisation of a little girl who suffers but comes through despite everything. If you love Pickford's work, youll love this one. Just ignore the parts of the soundtrack which are absurdly out of place. It is a heartwarming film and will make you want to see more of her work."
Anyechka | Rensselaer, NY United States | 02/22/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Unlike almost all of Mary's other movies, this DVD was not put out by the terrific Milestone company, and it shows. The soundtrack is a bit monotonous and not really the greatest, and the print doesn't seem to have seen that much remastering. Normally I dislike it when people complain excessively about the quality of a print, as though we should expect all films this old to have gotten the master treatment when it came time to restore them, but here it really does seem that there wasn't much care put into improving the print. Some of the intertitles are also a bit hard to read because of the pale white print against an almost equally pale background.
The story itself isn't what I'd call top-notch Pickford, but it does have that undeniable charm and sweetness to it, along with the usual theme of a young girl triumphing over bestial odds even when the rotten circumstances and people around her seem overwhelming. Since the meat of the story doesn't really start until about 40 minutes into the movie, it can seem a little underwhelming and even somewhat boring while we're waiting for the plot to get underway. I'm not saying that the plot and characters need to be established immediately in lieu of just showing some vignettes from their lives, but why does it take as long as 40 minutes to finally get down to business? The only other complaint I have about the film is that, given the era, there are a number of somewhat unsettling ethnic stereotypes, even though it is progressive enough to show a bunch of kids from all different cultures playing together. The most disturbing is the scene where Annie, who is staying with her friend Abie's family, coaxes Abie into eating the ham his family made for her. I find it very hard to believe that a frum (observant) family would cook treyf food in their own utensils, even if it were being served to someone who wasn't Jewish. That's just not something that's done.
Mary's character, Annie Rooney, is a bit of a street urchin, running wild in a gang of immigrant kids on the Lower East Side. She also has distinction in this group because she's a girl among boys, and prefers "unladylike" activities like fighting in lieu of sitting home sewing and cooking. Her father is a police officer who is trying to close down another gang in the area, a gang to which Joe Kelly (William Haines), whom Annie has a crush on, belongs. Officer Rooney, on his birthday, heads out to a dance given by this rival gang and ends up getting shot to death, with Joe (whom we know didn't do it) taking the blame. Annie firmly believes in Joe's innocence and steadfastly stands by him, even though her older brother Tim has been lied to that Joe was the one who did the shooting, and can't believe Annie is defending the guy he believes killed their father. Tim vows vengeance and goes to take the law into his own hands. However, by the time he learns the truth, it may be too late, and Annie makes what she believes is the ultimate sacrifice for Joe by giving him her blood in a transfusion."