The Little American (1917)


(director/writer/editor/producer: Cecil B. De Mille; screenwriter: Clarence J. Harris/story by Jeanie Macpherson; cinematographer: Alvin Wyckoff; cast: Mary Pickford (Angela Moore), Jack Holt (Karl Von Austreim), Raymond Hatton (Count Jules de Destin), Hobert Bosworth (German Commander), Lillian Leighton (Angela’s Great Aunt), Walter Long (German Captain); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; Grapevine Video; 1917-silent)
“Basically a WW1 propaganda film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Cecil B. De Mille collaborates with the celebrated silent actress Mary Pickford to make this patriotic romantic war drama, which was made just at the time America entered World War I. It’s basically a WW1 propaganda film, largely attacking our brutal enemy — the Germans.

Mary Pickford plays the American Angela Moore who is wooed by both German-American Karl Von Austreim (Jack Holt) and French-American Count Jules de Destin (Raymond Hatton). When war breaks out in 1914, Karl, the one Mary prefers, must leave America to fight for his native Germany, while the Count leaves to fight for Karl’s enemy France. At this same time Mary goes to France by boat to see her dying aunt (Lillian Leighton), but her boat is sunk by a German U-2. Mary survives and ends up in her dead aunt’s house, which she inherits only to find it has been turned into a hospital. But the Germans invade and rape the women and loot the village. Mary’s nearly raped by Karl, who at first didn’t recognize her. She later gets arrested for sending secret messages to Jules, and Karl comes to her aid. Mary is finally rescued from execution by the arrival of Jules with the French army.

Not much of a story. One of Pickford’s poorer films.