Poor Little Rich Girl, The

411. THE POOR LITTLE RICH GIRL (1917-USA). With MARY PICKFORD. Produced by ADOLPH ZUKOR. Directed by MAURICE TOURNEUR. “America’s Sweetheart,” Mary Pickford, in her first appearance as a child in a major film an enchanting masterpiece of the early American cinema. Little Mary (who was 24 at the time) plays Gwendolyn, a rich girl with everything she could wantÑpalatial mansion, huge wardrobe, an army of servants- except the one thing she wants most, love. Dad is preoccupied with business and mom with social activities, leavÂing Gwen completely alone and friendless. “Empty hearts, empty lives, empty homeÑpoor little rich girl.” Given an overdose of sleeping medicine by careless servants, Gwen lapses into a fantastic, bizarre dream, where she wanders in the Garden of Lonely Children, searching for happiness. Accompanied by a friendly donkey, she encounters literal depictions of things she’s heard about, such as a “snake in the grass” (her governess’ head on a snake’s body} and a “two-faced woman.” Seeking her parents’ love, she finds her father literally grinding out money on Wall Street (visualized as a large, imposing wall), and her mother in the land where hundreds of candles are burned at both ends. Gwen is finally attracted to death (a woman in black offering eternal sleep), but instead struggles bravely toward life (a happily dancing figure in white). Director Maurice Tourneur shows the extraordinary talent that made him a major visual stylist of the teens, rival led only by D.W. Griffith. The filmÑwith its beautiful photography, excellent special effects, fanciful costumes, elaborate sets (including oversized furniture to make Pickford appear even smaller), and delicate balance between heart-gripping drama and exuberant comedyÑranks with The Blue Bird, The Jungle Book and The Thief of Bagdad as an exquisite fantasy for people of all ages. Silent film with music score, correct projection speed. 99 minutes. ÒSilentÓ Drama