(director: Sidney A. Franklin; screenwriter: Frances Marion/Bernard McConville/Julie Mathilde Lippmann/from the Julie Mathilde Lippmann novel Burkeses Amy; cinematographer: Charles Rosher; editor: Edward McDermott; cast: Amy Burke (Mary Pickford), Alexander Guthrie (Ralph Lewis), John Graham (Kenneth Harlan), Dish Lowry (Melvin Messenger), John Burke (Dwight Crittendon), Nora (Aggie Herring), Pat O’Shaughnessy (Andrew Arbuckle), Abram Isaacs (Max Davidson); Runtime: 78; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Mary Pickford; Milestone Films; 1919-silent)

“An unappealing melodrama from the silent era.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Sidney A. Franklin (“Private Lives”/”The Good Earth”/”The Barretts of Wimpole Street“) directs for First National an unappealing melodrama from the silent era. It’s based on the novel Burkses’ Amy by Julie M. Lippman. The film tanks because of its muddled plot line and that its appealing star, Mary Pickford, with the endearing nickname of “America’s Sweetheart,” doesn’t come off that sweet despite all the contrivances to make her sweet in the end.

Alexander Guthrie (Ralph Lewis) is a wealthy and ruthless businessman, who lives in a mansion in the ritzy Park Avenue section of Manhattan with his spoiled and moody granddaughter Amy Burke (Mary Pickford). They get into a verbal spat when Amy at the last moment refuses to go with gramps to Europe on a vacation and returns to live with her respected sociologist researcher father (Dwight Crittendon), at work studying living conditions in the slums to finish his treatise, while dwelling in a run-down tenement in a Lower East Side slum. The lifestyle change first frightens the ambiguously aged teen, but she adjusts to her new rough neighborhood by making friends with street-wise kids–the rough-house Pat O’Shaughnessy (Andrew Arbuckle, cousin of Fatty) and crap-shooter Abram Issacs (Max Davidson) and the mysterious artist ex-con John Graham (Kenneth Harlan). The street kids survive by doing petty crimes, while the neighborhood is overwhelmed with squalor and deplorable living conditions. When Amy becomes romantically interested in John, she learns he was imprisoned after he was made the scapegoat for a shady financial deal undertaken by her grandfather. To get proof he was innocent and not an embezzler, Amy disguises herself as a boy and with John they break into her grandfather’s residence. They find papers to clear John, but are caught. Gramps has a change of heart and doesn’t press charges, convinced the energetic Amy has matured and learned to be kind and care about others. In the end everything is made right again ,allowing the lovebirds to marry and presumably live happily ever after.

REVIEWED ON 1/28/2013 GRADE: C+    https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/