A Film of Pain and Romance
Mr Peter G George | Ellon, Aberdeenshire United Kingdom | 03/07/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Daddy Long Legs is a wonderful example of Mary Pickford's talent for portraying adolescent girls even when she herself was much older. She was 26 when the film was made in 1919, but she is convincing even when she plays a 12-year-old orphan and is quite captivating when she grows up to go to college. Pickford may have gone on playing the teenager a little too long. Some of her later films stretch credibility too much, but this is not the case here. Interestingly this DVD includes a Biograph short from 1910, What the Daisy Said, where 17-year-old Mary appears to be older than in many of her later roles. Ironically, at this time she wanted to appear older than she was and it has been said that one of the reasons why she left Biograph was that Griffith would not allow her to develop into full adult roles. Daddy Long Legs starts as a sort of exposé of an orphanage. There is one particularly gruesome scene of Mary being deliberately burned on a stove as a punishment. The picture gets redder and redder to emphasise the pain and the heat. But the story also has moments of fine comedy to counterbalance the more serious elements. Pickford makes a fine comic drunk and a scene where she pretends to be strangled with her own arm is as good a piece of comic ingenuity as I have seen. When she leaves the orphanage the film becomes a delightful romance. This love story keeps the viewer guessing, and shows the many faces of love, the joy as well as the despair. It is wholly believable. The picture quality of this film is almost perfect. There is some occasional fading of the image and brief moments of apparent damage, but overall the restoration is extremely good. The picture is tinted and uses a number of colours to accompany the variations in the settings and the moods of the scenes. The titles are especially noteworthy as many of them include drawings which along with the words comment on the action. The chamber music for this film fits in well with the action. It is well played and includes some fine themes. As I mentioned this DVD contains a Biograph short. It is about 12 minutes long and is very welcome as an additional feature. I've only seen about 10 of the hundreds of films Griffith made at Biograph and on the whole find them difficult to appreciate. These early shorts are possibly the hardest of films for the modern viewer to grasp. Nevertheless, a film like What the Daisy Said is intriguing and in a curious way entertaining. It makes me want to find out more about this period of filmmaking. Someone should bring out a series of DVD's featuring Biograph shorts."
'Little Mary' grows up.
Astrid Morgan | Lilydale, Victoria Australia | 02/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"'Daddy Long Legs' is a beautifully crafted film in which Pickford's character, Judy Abbott, grows up. Pickford plays the role of an abandoned child who pits her wits against a child who is born with a silver spoon in her mouth, Angelina.
As a child in an orphanage, the unloved, unwanted Judy skillfully and hilariously outwits both the orphanage mistress and Angelina, by inciting the inmates to rebel against their diet of prunes, stealing Angelina's doll and by delivering it minus an arm to a dying child.
Despite the film's hilarity, it makes a genuine statement about social acceptability. As an orphan, Judy is neither worthy of Angelina's company nor is she her social equal. Even the young Angelina looks down her nose at Judy who wears the orphanage gingham with dignity.
Years later, as a young woman at college, sponsored by a much older gentleman, Judy again meets Angelina who treats her as inferior and lacking social connections. Later, Judy's writing finally enables her to socialise with the wealthy but when this breakthrough occurs, she is mindful of her origins and cannot bring herself initially to wed into the snobbish families she encounters.
Judy arrives at a decision involving which beau to accept after heartfelt thought and agonising. Then a well hidden secret is disclosed, to Judy's embarrassment.
The ending is happy and satisfying. Any Pickford fan would enjoy this film. It is intellectual as well as entertaining and is delightfully photographed."
Daddy Long Legs
Steven Hellerstedt | 02/05/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A baby is found in a trashcan, wrapped in newspapers, and grows up to be Mary Pickford.
The baby, as was probably common for all post-Oliver Twist melodramas, is haphazardly named by the stern mistress of the orphanage after riffling through a phone books and surveying a clump of headstones.
The silent DADDY-LONG-LEGS is two movies delicately joined. The first follows the fortunes of young Jerusha `Judy' Abbott (Pickford) in the orphanage. From the second half comes the title of the film. A wealthy benefactor wishes to send Pickford to college, and, importantly, maintain his anonymity. The only glimpse she catches of him is his tall shadow. Hence Daddy-Long-Legs.
There's a welcome dose of comedy in the first half. Melodramas set in orphanages, especially silent ones, can be pretty rough going. Fortunately this one only kills one child and burns one thieving hand. It could be worse. The movie offsets the heavy stuff with an amusing scene with an inebriated dog and a cute look at the headquarters of Dan Cupid, un-LTD, replete with a gaggle of winged and diaper-clad toddlers intent on throwing or two at pretty Miss Pickford. The second half is a tale of love finding the delicate heroine with a terrible secret.
I enjoyed DADDY-LONG-LEGS quite a bit. Whatever made Mary Pickford "America's Sweetheart" almost a hundred years ago still works today. Watching the movie took a little bit of adjustment, though. The orphanage melodrama was about as thick as Queen Victoria's girdle, and title cards saying "Why did she raise her hair and lengthen her skirts?" confused a bit more than they enlightened. The social stigma associated with being an orphan seems dated, as well.
The other film on this disk also features Mary Pickford. WHAT THE DAISY SAID was directed by D.W. Griffith in 1910 and is a very short take on two sisters (Pickford and Gertrude Robinson) being seduced by a gigolo of a palm-reading Gypsy. The moral seems to be to trust flowers more than men who wrap their heads in handkerchiefs.
Great movie, poor transfer to disc
gishfan | Texas | 01/07/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In this, one of her best films, Pickford plays an orphan who becomes the beneficiary of a mysterious man whom she comes to call her "Daddy Long Legs." This movie is very charming, and Pickford's performance in the lead role of a young girl who gradually becomes a young woman is very believable, much more so than her performances in some of her later films. Unlike the movie itself, unfortunately, the quality of the DVD transfer is poor--the background in many scenes often appears to be a jumble of little gray squares. The foreground is indistinct and fuzzy, lacking the smoothness and sharp details of a good film to video (disc) transfer. In a good many scenes the picture is like something one might see when attempting to view a very detailed photograph on a low-resolution computer screen. I'm not sure if the VHS version of this movie is this way, but I dropped a star from the rating of this version because of the poor picture quality."