Monday, October 17, 2016

FILMBAY 2000 Greatest Films of All-Time (1888-2014) by Year # 0056 - COUNTRY DOCTOR, THE (D.W. Griffith, 1909, USA, 14m, BW)



COUNTRY DOCTOR, THE 

(D.W. Griffith, 1909, USA, 14m, BW)




COUNTRY DOCTOR, THE (D.W. Griffith)

Directed by     D. W. Griffith
Written by     D. W. Griffith
Starring     Kate Bruce
Cinematography     G. W. Bitzer
Distributed by     Biograph Studios
Release dates July 8, 1909
Running time 14 minutes (18 frame/s)
Country     United States
Language Silent
English intertitles


The Country Doctor is a 1909 American short silent drama film written and directed by D. W. Griffith. Currently in the public domain, prints of The Country Doctor are preserved at the film archives of the Museum of Modern Art and the Library of Congress.

Plot

A doctor (Frank Powell) leaves his sick daughter (Adele DeGarde) to assist a neighbor that is gravely ill, and ignores his wife's requests to come home and take care of his own daughter who is getting worse.

Cast

    Kate Bruce as Poor Mother (uncredited)
    Adele DeGarde as Poor Mother's Sick Daughter (uncredited)
    Gladys Egan as Edith Harcourt – Daughter (uncredited)
    Rose King as Maid (uncredited)
    Florence Lawrence as Mrs.Harcourt (uncredited)
    Mary Pickford as Poor Mother's Elder Daughter (uncredited)
    Frank Powell as Doctor Harcourt (uncredited)








Review

This somber D.W. Griffith drama is still quite effective in grabbing hold of your emotions and making you anguish over the dilemmas facing its characters. It's hard to see how even today anyone could significantly improve on the way that it gets the most out of the material. Griffith chose to open the story with a long panning shot of a beautiful countryside, before introducing "The Country Doctor" and his family. This opening is very effective in establishing the setting, and in fact the first few minutes are taken up with that shot and with some light-hearted scenes of the family outdoors. When the more serious part of the story is suddenly introduced, it is that much more effective for the contrast that has been established.

The main story is based on a simple but powerful premise, as the doctor must make agonizing decisions between his duty as a physician and his loyalty to his own family. Many things work together to make it so effective. The cast (which includes early audience favorite Florence Lawrence as the doctor's wife, and Mary Pickford in a smaller role) is pretty good, and the technique is quite refined for 1909. The cross-cutting at crucial points is particularly effective, as is the careful setup of several significant parallels. Although many other film-makers of the era deserve to share the credit with Griffith for introducing and experimenting with the kinds of techniques that would soon become standard, this feature is a good example of why Griffith attained the kind of reputation that he had. It's very carefully done, and it works well enough to remain effective even today.

With exteriors filmed in pastoral Cunnecticut and an excellent cast of Griffith's top actors (Florence Lawrence, Mary Pickford, Kate Bruce, baby Gladys Egan), The Country Doctor is still an effective dramatic work, showing a doctor's moral and emotional struggle over treating a young patient while his own daughter lies dying at home.

The family's happiness at the beginning of the film is emphasized with very long takes of the happy threesome walking down their garden path, stopping in a field to pick flowers, smiling and stretching their arms skyward with contentment. Miz Larwence chews the scenery somewhat in these first shots, her gesturing breaking the serenity of the landscape.

Once the film goes indoors and she trades her white summer gown for a sober black dress, she is much more controlled. The doctor/father, Frank Powell, also uses some dated indication techniques throughout the film. The real laurels go to the two children of the film, Gladys Egan and Adele DeGarde, who both play their sick-little-girl roles superbly, with subtle, realistic emotion. There is especially lovely cinematography and scenery in this film. Billy Bitzer's opening and closing panoramic shots of the valley are stunning. Well worth seeing for many reasons, and definitely accessible to modern viewers.



Mary Pickford

Gladys Louise Smith (April 8, 1892 – May 29, 1979), known professionally as Mary Pickford, was a Canadian-American film actress, writer, director, and producer. She was co-founder of the film studio United Artists and one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Known in her prime as "America's Sweetheart" and the "girl with the curls", Pickford was one of the Canadian pioneers in early Hollywood and a significant figure in the development of film acting. Pickford was one of the earliest stars to be billed under her name (film performers up until that time were usually unbilled), and was one of the most popular actresses of the 1910s and '20s, earning the nickname "Queen of the Movies".

She was awarded the second ever Academy Award for Best Actress for her first sound film role in Coquette (1929) and also received an honorary Academy Award in 1976. In consideration of her contributions to American cinema, the American Film Institute ranked Pickford as 24th in its 1999 list of greatest female stars of classic Hollywood Cinema.

Gladys Mary Smith was the daughter of actors. Soon after the death of her father she began taking child’s roles in productions in which her mother was playing. She made her first stage appearance in a Toronto stock company at the age of five. At eight she went on tour, and within 10 years she was playing on Broadway. From 1906 the family adopted the name Pickford. She made her New York debut in David Belasco’s The Warrens of Virginia in December 1907. At age 14 she had already learned more of stagecraft than many older actors, and her winsome face, framed by a mass of golden curls, made her appeal virtually irresistible.

Pickford began working as a motion-picture extra at D.W. Griffith’s Biograph Studio, starring in his 1909 film The Lonely Villa. By 1913 she had turned permanently to the screen, rising to first rank with Adolph Zukor’s Famous Players Company. Her meteoric rise from an anonymous player to a star with her own production company (Mary Pickford Studios, created by Famous Players) was attributable not only to the phenomenal popularity of her films but also to her dedication to her craft and her meticulous care in creating quality entertainments.

The ringleted ingenue with an expression of sweet sincerity and invincible innocence that she played in such silent films as Hearts Adrift (1914), Poor Little Rich Girl (1917), Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917), and Johanna Enlists (1918) enthralled audiences everywhere. She was known at first as the “Biograph Girl with the Curls” and then as “Our Mary” when that much of her name was revealed; with the release of Tess of the Storm Country in 1914, she was firmly established as “America’s Sweetheart.” In 1917 First National Films paid her $350,000 for each of three films, including the very successful Daddy Long Legs (1919).


More about Mary Pickford, American actress

Mary Pickford, original name Gladys Mary Smith (born April 9, 1893, Toronto, Ont., Can.—died May 28, 1979, Santa Monica, Calif., U.S.) Canadian-born U.S. motion-picture actress, “America’s sweetheart” of the silent screen, and one of the first film stars. At the height of her career, she was one of the richest and most famous women in the United States.

Gladys Mary Smith was the daughter of actors. Soon after the death of her father she began taking child’s roles in productions in which her mother was playing. She made her first stage appearance in a Toronto stock company at the age of five. At eight she went on tour, and within 10 years she was playing on Broadway. From 1906 the family adopted the name Pickford. She made her New York debut in David Belasco’s The Warrens of Virginia in December 1907. At age 14 she had already learned more of stagecraft than many older actors, and her winsome face, framed by a mass of golden curls, made her appeal virtually irresistible.

Pickford began working as a motion-picture extra at D.W. Griffith’s Biograph Studio, starring in his 1909 film The Lonely Villa. By 1913 she had turned permanently to the screen, rising to first rank with Adolph Zukor’s Famous Players Company. Her meteoric rise from an anonymous player to a star with her own production company (Mary Pickford Studios, created by Famous Players) was attributable not only to the phenomenal popularity of her films but also to her dedication to her craft and her meticulous care in creating quality entertainments. The ringleted ingenue with an expression of sweet sincerity and invincible innocence that she played in such silent films as Hearts Adrift (1914), Poor Little Rich Girl (1917), Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917), and Johanna Enlists (1918) enthralled audiences everywhere. She was known at first as the “Biograph Girl with the Curls” and then as “Our Mary” when that much of her name was revealed; with the release of Tess of the Storm Country in 1914, she was firmly established as “America’s Sweetheart.” In 1917 First National Films paid her $350,000 for each of three films, including the very successful Daddy Long Legs (1919).

In 1919 Pickford took the lead in organizing the United Artists Corporation with Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, and Douglas Fairbanks. In 1920, after the dissolution of her first marriage (1911–19) to actor Owen Moore, she married Fairbanks (divorced 1935). Pickford’s popularity continued unabated in Pollyanna (1920), Little Lord Fauntleroy (1921), Little Annie Rooney (1925), My Best Girl (1927), Coquette (1929; her first talking picture, for which she won an Academy Award for best actress), The Taming of the Shrew (1929; her only film with Fairbanks), and Kiki (1931).

With Secrets (1933), her 194th film, Pickford retired from the screen. Thereafter she devoted herself to United Artists, of which she was first vice president from 1935 and for which she produced several films. She also wrote Why Not Try God (1934), The Demi-Widow (1935), and My Rendezvous with Life (1935), and in the 1930s she appeared on radio. In 1937 she married actor Charles (“Buddy”) Rogers. Her later years were spent on business and civic and charitable activities, and she eventually became a recluse at Pickfair, the lavish estate she had built with Fairbanks. Sunshine and Shadow, her autobiography, was published in 1955.


The film industry

Pickford used her stature in the movie industry to promote a variety of causes. Although her image depicted fragility and innocence, Pickford proved to be a worthy businesswoman who took control of her career in a cutthroat industry. During World War I, she promoted the sale of Liberty Bonds, making an intensive series of fund-raising speeches that kicked off in Washington, D.C., where she sold bonds alongside Charles Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Theda Bara, and Marie Dressler. Five days later she spoke on Wall Street to an estimated 50,000 people. Though Canadian-born, she was a powerful symbol of Americana, kissing the American flag for cameras and auctioning one of her world-famous curls for $15,000. In a single speech in Chicago she sold an estimated five million dollars' worth of bonds. She was christened the U.S. Navy's official "Little Sister"; the Army named two cannons after her and made her an honorary colonel.

At the end of World War I, Pickford conceived of the Motion Picture Relief Fund, an organization to help financially needy actors. Leftover funds from her work selling Liberty Bonds were put toward its creation, and in 1921, the Motion Picture Relief Fund (MPRF) was officially incorporated, with Joseph Schenck voted its first president and Pickford its vice president. In 1932, Pickford spearheaded the "Payroll Pledge Program", a payroll-deduction plan for studio workers who gave one half of one percent of their earnings to the MPRF. As a result, in 1940, the Fund was able to purchase land and build the Motion Picture Country House and Hospital, in Woodland Hills, California.

An astute businesswoman, Pickford became her own producer within three years of her start in features. According to her Foundation, "she oversaw every aspect of the making of her films, from hiring talent and crew to overseeing the script, the shooting, the editing, to the final release and promotion of each project." She demanded (and received) these powers in 1916, when she was under contract to Zukor's Famous Players In Famous Plays (later Paramount). Zukor acquiesced to her refusal to participate in block-booking, the widespread practice of forcing an exhibitor to show a bad film of the studio's choosing to also be able to show a Pickford film. In 1916, Pickford's films were distributed, singly, through a special distribution unit called Artcraft. The Mary Pickford Corporation was briefly Pickford's motion-picture production company.

In 1919, she increased her power by co-founding United Artists (UA) with Charlie Chaplin, D. W. Griffith, and her soon-to-be husband, Douglas Fairbanks. Before UA's creation, Hollywood studios were vertically integrated, not only producing films but forming chains of theaters. Distributors (also part of the studios) arranged for company productions to be shown in the company's movie venues. Filmmakers relied on the studios for bookings; in return they put up with what many considered creative interference.[citation needed]

United Artists broke from this tradition. It was solely a distribution company, offering independent film producers access to its own screens as well as the rental of temporarily unbooked cinemas owned by other companies. Pickford and Fairbanks produced and shot their films after 1920 at the jointly owned Pickford-Fairbanks studio on Santa Monica Boulevard. The producers who signed with UA were true independents, producing, creating and controlling their work to an unprecedented degree. As a co-founder, as well as the producer and star of her own films, Pickford became the most powerful woman who has ever worked in Hollywood. By 1930, Pickford's acting career had largely faded. After retiring three years later, however, she continued to produce films for United Artists. She and Chaplin remained partners in the company for decades. Chaplin left the company in 1955, and Pickford followed suit in 1956, selling her remaining shares for three million dollars.

Personal life

Pickford was married three times. She married Owen Moore, an Irish-born silent film actor, on January 7, 1911. It is rumored she became pregnant by Moore in the early 1910s and had a miscarriage or an abortion. Some accounts suggest this resulted in her later inability to have children. The couple had numerous marital problems, notably Moore's alcoholism, insecurity about living in the shadow of Pickford's fame, and bouts of domestic violence. The couple lived together on-and-off for several years.

Pickford became secretly involved in a relationship with Douglas Fairbanks. They toured the US together in 1918 to promote Liberty Bond sales for the World War I effort. Around this time, Pickford also suffered from the flu during the 1918 flu pandemic, but survived. Pickford divorced Moore on March 2, 1920, after she agreed to his $100,000 demand for a settlement. She married Fairbanks just days later on March 28, 1920. They went to Europe for their honeymoon; fans in London and in Paris caused riots trying to get to the famous couple. The couple's triumphant return to Hollywood was witnessed by vast crowds who turned out to hail them at railway stations across the United States.

The Mark of Zorro (1920) and a series of other swashbucklers gave the popular Fairbanks a more romantic, heroic image. Pickford continued to epitomize the virtuous but fiery girl next door. Even at private parties, people instinctively stood up when Pickford entered a room; she and her husband were often referred to as "Hollywood royalty". Their international reputations were broad. Foreign heads of state and dignitaries who visited the White House often asked if they could also visit Pickfair, the couple's mansion in Beverly Hills.

Dinners at Pickfair included a number of notable guests. Charlie Chaplin, Fairbanks' best friend, was often present. Other guests included George Bernard Shaw, Albert Einstein, Elinor Glyn, Helen Keller, H. G. Wells, Lord Mountbatten, Fritz Kreisler, Amelia Earhart, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Noël Coward, Max Reinhardt, Baron Nishi, Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Austen Chamberlain, Sir Harry Lauder, and Meher Baba, among others. The public nature of Pickford's second marriage strained it to the breaking point. Both she and Fairbanks had little time off from producing and acting in their films. They were also constantly on display as America's unofficial ambassadors to the world, leading parades, cutting ribbons, and making speeches. When their film careers both began to flounder at the end of the silent era, Fairbanks' restless nature prompted him to overseas travel (something which Pickford did not enjoy). When Fairbanks' romance with Sylvia, Lady Ashley became public in the early 1930s, he and Pickford separated. They divorced January 10, 1936. Fairbanks' son by his first wife, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., claimed his father and Pickford long regretted their inability to reconcile.

On June 24, 1937, Pickford married her third and last husband, actor and band leader Buddy Rogers. They adopted two children: Roxanne (born 1944, adopted 1944) and Ronald Charles (born 1937, adopted 1943, a.k.a. Ronnie Pickford Rogers). As a PBS American Experience documentary noted, Pickford's relationship with her children was tense. She criticized their physical imperfections, including Ronnie's small stature and Roxanne's crooked teeth. Both children later said their mother was too self-absorbed to provide real maternal love. In 2003, Ronnie recalled that "Things didn't work out that much, you know. But I'll never forget her. I think that she was a good woman."

Later years

After retiring from the screen, Pickford became an alcoholic, as her father had been. Her mother Charlotte died of breast cancer in March 1928. Her siblings, Lottie and Jack, both died of alcohol-related causes. These deaths, her divorce from Fairbanks, and the end of silent films left Pickford deeply depressed. Her relationship with her children, Roxanne and Ronald, was turbulent at best. Pickford withdrew and gradually became a recluse, remaining almost entirely at Pickfair and allowing visits only from Lillian Gish, her stepson Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and few other people. She appeared in court in 1959, in a matter pertaining to her co-ownership of North Carolina TV station WSJS-TV. The court date coincided with the date of her 67th birthday; under oath, when asked to give her age, Pickford replied, "I'm 21, going on 20".

In the mid-1960s, Pickford often received visitors only by telephone, speaking to them from her bedroom. Buddy Rogers often gave guests tours of Pickfair, including views of a genuine western bar Pickford had bought for Douglas Fairbanks, and a portrait of Pickford in the drawing room. A print of this image now hangs in the Library of Congress. In addition to her Oscar as best actress for Coquette (1929), Mary Pickford received an Academy Honorary Award in 1976 for lifetime achievement. The Academy sent a TV crew to her house to record her short statement of thanks – offering the public a very rare glimpse into Pickfair Manor.

Pickford had become an American citizen upon her marriage to Fairbanks in 1920. Toward the end of her life, Pickford made arrangements with the Department of Citizenship to regain her Canadian citizenship because she wished to "die as a Canadian". Her request was approved and she became a dual Canadian-American citizen.

Death

On May 29, 1979, Pickford died at a Santa Monica, California hospital of complications from a cerebral hemorrhage she had suffered the week before. She was interred in the Garden of Memory of the Forest Lawn Memorial Park cemetery in Glendale, California. Buried alongside her in the Pickford private family plot are her mother Charlotte, her siblings Lottie and Jack Pickford, and the family of Elizabeth Watson, Charlotte's sister, who had helped raise Pickford in Toronto.


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