Sparrows

968. SPARROWS (1926-USA). With MARY PICKFORD. “The Devil’s share in the world’s creation was certain Southern swamplandÑa masterpiece of horror. And the Lord, appreciating a good job, let it stand. This is the setting for one of Mary Pickford’s most loved features, itself a masterpiece of horror (and sentimentality) a Dickensian story about a group of pathetic orphans held as slaves by a tyrant, who abuses and star them, and forces them to work on his swampland farm. Mary, the oldest of the group, continually protects children and promises them that the Lord will hear their prayers and come to the rescue: it’s just that He is busy “watchin’ every sparrow that falls.” When the villain and his partners kidnap a wealthy man’s baby, police begin an intensive search. In the meantime, the orphans attempt to escape through the treacherous swamp, filled with alligators and quicksandÑa spectacular, thoroughly convincing sequence with edge-of-the Seat thrills (for which an entire swamp was built on the studio back lot). With their tormentors and a viscous dog close behind, the kids climb trees and swing on ropes across deep water, trying to avoid the hungry a gators whose jaws are wide open, just inches beneath their feet. Like other films of the late silent years, the work shows the medium at its fullest powers of expression, with breathtaking, atmospheric photography, expert editing, and amazingly skillful performances by “Little Mary” (who was actually over thirty at the time) and the most lovable orphans you’ll ever see. Silent film with music score, correct projection speed. 123 minutes. Drama