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Through the Back Door
Through the Back Door
Actors: Mary Pickford, Owen Moore, Isabel Vernon, Georgia Wilson, Lucille Carney
Director: James Kirkwood
Genres: Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy
NR     2005     0hr 52min

The life of young Jeanne (Mary Pickford) changes dramatically when her widowed mother marries wealthy New Yorker Elton Reeves. Disdainful of children and jealous of the attention paid to his stepdaughter, Reeves convinces ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Mary Pickford, Owen Moore, Isabel Vernon, Georgia Wilson, Lucille Carney
Director: James Kirkwood
Creator: Charles Perrault
Genres: Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Sub-Genres: Classics, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Studio: Image Entertainment
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen
DVD Release Date: 05/03/2005
Original Release Date: 01/01/1921
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1921
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 0hr 52min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Fine Mary Pickford vehicles
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 10/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Through The Back Door is an exquisitely produced, well acted movie starring the immortal Mary Pickford. Mary gives a great performance as Jeanne, the cast aside daughter of a woman who remarries a selfish man who dislikes children. Look also for solid performances by Gertrude Astor as Louise Reeves, Jeanne's mother and Wilfred Lucas who plays Elton Reeves.

The action begins when little Jeanne's mother, Louise (Gertrude Astor), decides to marry a rather selfish and unfeeling rich man named Elton Reeves (Wilfred Lucas). Elton convinces Louise that to be happy they must live in America and leave Jeanne behind in Belgium with Jeanne's nursemaid, Marie (Helen Raymond). Louise dislikes it but eventually she agrees to leave little Jeanne behind in Marie's care.

Five years pass and when Louis comes to get Jeanne, Marie hatches a plan to keep Jeanne as her own. Jeanne and Marie have a strong bond and Marie couldn't bear to lose Jeanne. Marie lies to Louise and tells Louise that Jeanne drowned in a river and is dead. Louise greaves for her lost daughter and eventually the stress of it all takes a toll on Louise's marriage to the still selfish Elton.

Meanwhile, World War I breaks out and Marie feels forced to get Jeanne to safety in America with her birth mother. Marie and Jeanne have an emotional parting and Jeanne goes to America to find her mother. Along the way the kindly Jeanne picks up two orphaned boys stuck alongside the road; this helps to flesh out Jeanne's character as a good, motherly type of person.

Once Jeanne gets to America, she travels to her mother's estate but for some reason Jeanne can't bring herself to tell her mother that she is her lost daughter. Instead Jeanne settles for work as a maid at her mother's estate. This is the only flaw in the plot that I can see; but the rest of this movie is so well done I can forgive it.

Of course, the plot can still go anywhere from here. Will Jeanne like being a maid on her mother's estate? How will Jeanne ever get up the nerve to tell her mother who she really is? What about the boy next door--will their romance ever blossom despite the apparent differences in social class? What about the Brewsters--they pretend to be friends with Elton Reeves only to try to get their hands on his money--how will they ever be caught and revealed as the crooks that they are? Watch the movie and find out!

The choreography shines in the scene in which Jeanne cleans a dirty floor by strapping scrubbing brushes to her feet and skating around the floor; and the cinematography remains strong throughout the picture.

Overall, Through The Back Door is a marvelous and tender story starring Mary Pickford at her best. Look for great performances from Gertrude Astor as Jeanne's mother; and there's a fine performance from a rather young Adolphe Menjou as James Brewster, one two con artists who try to swindle money out of Elton Reeves.

The DVD has the wonderful bonus feature of a 52 minute film entitled Cinderella. The action begins without much character development; I agree with people who state that this could well mean that some footage is missing or lost. Many of the outdoor scenes are rather overexposed and the print shows its age. Nevertheless, the story is rather faithfully told in an elegant manner. I highly recommend this fine bonus for everyone.

Mary Pickford fans will be thrilled with the two movies on this DVD. This movie is also highly recommended for any fan of silent movies; and the bonus of Cinderella makes this an excellent double feature.

Great job, everyone!
Thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable!
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 05/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Thanks to Milestone's wonderful efforts to restore many of Mary Pickford's films, a whole new generation is getting to know `America's Sweetheart' and understand why she earned this title. This great DVD has not one but two shining examples of Pickford's delightful acting style which captivated and charmed audiences in the 1910s and 1920s, and together with excellent musical scores, both films are a real pleasure to watch. Although Mary's role is quite typical in "Through the Back Door" as she plays first a 10-year-old and then a 16-year-old girl, the story of this film is particularly good and even quite suspenseful as we follow her adventures and attempts to re-unite with her mother. There are plenty of highlights, both in drama and comedy, as she plays a mischievous little girl on a farm, then as a young woman leaving war-torn Belgium to find her mother in New York. Suspense escalates when she is employed as a maid in her mother's wealthy home, and unsuccessfully attempts to tell her mother who she really is. Like most of Pickford's most popular films, "Through the Back Door" is essentially a heart-warming story about love and human relationships enduring hardships and finding happiness in the end, and while this film is no exception, I still found it particularly enjoyable to watch and rate it as one of my favourite Pickford films.

The second treat on this DVD is one of Mary's earliest feature films, "Cinderella", made in 1914, and although the picture quality is often rather faded and not as good as "Through the Back Door", the exceptionally beautiful musical accompaniment makes up for any visual shortcomings. Furthermore, the sets, characters and not in the least Mary's excellent portrayal of Cinderella also make this one-hour early feature film a delight to watch. The story is what you might expect, complete with very ugly sisters, a huge pumpkin that the fairy godmother turns into a fabulous carriage, and the glass slipper left behind as the clock chimes at midnight. But there are also a few extra scenes and moments that almost make the story feel real and much more than just a child's fairytale. The unusual musical score by Donald Sosin, a silent film composer of high repute, has touches of Baroque and other early music to enhance and add to the magical atmosphere of this lovely old film. "Through the Back Door" also has an excellent orchestral score, and both films together make this DVD rate 5 stars, in my opinion. Definitely a real treat for Pickford fans, and surely a pleasure for the general silent film enthusiast as well.

Two Ultra Rare Pickfords for the Price of One
"Tee" | LA | 09/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is one of the "best buys" for Mary Pickford fans on DVD as it has two feature films that are very rare. THROUGH THE BACK DOOR (1921) is one of Mary's least known films from the 1920's but it's an extremely charming film that helped put Mary back in the number one spot at the box office that year. The movie was co-directed by Mary's talented brother Jack Pickford along with Alfred Green.

CINDERELLA (1914) is a title that has long been written about in Pickford articles, it was a very important film in her climb to her throne as the silent screen's greatest star yet it has been seen by almost no one for almost 90 years!! The print quality is a somewhat below average for a Milestone Pickford release (no doubt why it's included as a "bonus" here instead of marketed by itself for that reason) and I think a little work on it could have improved the picture quality somewhat but let's not quibble now that this historical important film has resurfaced. This will be a most welcome addition to your collection of silent films."
Very good Pickford film/s
Jeremy D Vosburgh | West Sand Lake, NY United States | 03/16/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Very good dvd. Includes Through the Back Door which is a classic Pickford film in which she plays a coming of age girl first at ~10 and then ~16 years of age. As usual, she is able to pull off the little girl bit very well. she really was quite an actress who chewed up the screen in every scene she was in. Amazing screen presence. The story itself was quite "modern" in its portrayal of casual adultery in a couples' life. Pickford adequately portrays the type of woman every woman would like to be; free and spirited. Perhaps this is why her movies appealed to both sexes. so few actresses today successfully have done this. And Pickford managed to do it in a time when women had still not attained equality (in fact not even vote!). I won't go into the story because it isn't important. Pickford made the film, not the story.

Cinderella is the other film (bonus) on the dvd. This one delights on two levels: Pickford (of course) and the story which was far more faithful to the Grimm tale than any of the modern pieces I have watched. Having said that, it was a bit antiquated in its portrayal of fairies and sets, but overall was a splendid work. Watch for the strikingly modern stop-action "nightmare" cinderella has after she goes to sleep after coming home after midnight!

If you're a thoughtful person who enjoys emotional justice, then you should buy this dvd. I thoroughly enjoyed it."