Distributed by Milestone Films & Video, PO Box 128, Harrington Park, NJ 07640-0128; 800-603-1104
Produced by Mary Pickford Institute and Timeline Films
Directed by Alfred E. Green and Jack Pickford
DVD, b&, silent, 112 min.
Jr. High - Adult
Children's Literature, Film Studies
Reviewed by Patricia B. McGee, Coordinator of Media Services, Volpe Library & Media Center, Tennessee Technological University
Date Entered: 4/29/2005
Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel is stunningly brought to the screen in this newly re-mastered version of the 1921 classic silent. Mary Pickford stars as Cedric Errol, grandson of the sour, reclusive duke of Dorincourt, and as Cedric’s widowed mother, Dearest. Cedric is fiercely loyal to his friends in the slum neighborhood, the grocer, the bootblack, and the apple-woman, and, with ringlets flying, he struts and swaggers as he vigorously defends himself against bullies. While no one would ever mistake Pickford for a boy, she projects impishness and bravado, along with a mixture of humor and toughness that cuts through the saccharine goodness of the story and makes it easy for the viewer to pretend otherwise.
When the duke’s eldest son dies in a riding accident, Cedric is brought with his mother to take his rightful place as heir to the earldom. Dearest is, however, exiled to a nearby cottage; the duke believes she schemed to marry his son for his money. Just as Cedric’s winning ways and generosity soften up his grandfather, disaster strikes. A rival claimant to the earldom - the purported legitimate son of the Duke’s oldest son - arrives on the scene to claim his rightful inheritance. Fortunately news of this magnitude reaches the New York papers, where Cedric’s friends realize they must expose this impostor. In true melodramatic fashion the chicanery is exposed, the Earl is reconciled with Dearest, and Cedric resumes his rightful position as Lord Fauntleroy.
Little Lord Fauntleroy is a delight. The quality of the picture is excellent; the sound is crisp and clear, while the musical score by Nigel Holton complements the action of the story. Pickford’s dual roles reveal her extraordinary range as an actor; she’s totally believable as the gentle and forgiving Dearest and as the mischievous and pugnacious Cedric. Charles Rosher’s wizardry with the camera, using forced perspective shots to make Cedric appear child-sized and masking double exposures where mother and son appear in the same shot, result in impressive special effects. This is a “must have” for all silent film collections.