The Love Light (1921)

  • Written & directed by Mary Pickford’s BFF (and all-around badass) Frances Marion.
  • The male lead, Fred Thomson, was Marion’s real-life husband.
  • According to TCM, Frances Marion heard the story that serves as the basis for this movie while on her honeymoon in Europe, and when Pickford & her new husband DF (Douglas Fairbanks) joined them over there, on their honeymoon, Pickford decided she wanted it to be the next film she made.
  • The visual clarity of this restoration is phenomenal. Good work, Mary Pickford Library.
  • The opening title cards clearly demonstrate Marion’s talent as a writer – everything’s so artfully phrased!
  • Title card, in the middle of the dinner scene: “Then, Madonna mia…the wine began to take effect!”

The footage that follows is a series of slow motion shots of geese walking/fluttering in an off-balance manner, looking fantastically drunk. This is a BRILLIANT decision.

  • The scene where 3 of the 5 dinner attendees vacate the table during the blessing, have an altercation with roughly 30 barnyard animals outside the house, then return to the table while the blessing is still occurring, with the preacher none-the-wiser? Also brilliant.
  • “To part is to die a little.”

Amen, Frances Marion.

  • This is a beautifully shot movie, y’all. (Edit: Ohhh…one of the credited cinematographers on this – Charles Rosher – also got a cinematography credit on SUNRISE (1927). Yep, that makes sense.) (The other credited cinematographer on this is Henry Cronjager. Just to be thorough.)
  • Aw. Mr. American (Thomson) is a deserter. Lame.
  • I love the moment when Joseph (Thomson) is eating breakfast at the table & Angela (Pickford) walks up behind him, extends her hand to almost run her fingers through his hair…but ends up just patting him on the shoulder instead. The daily struggle! (I know it well.)
  • So…this is adorable. Every night, from the lighthouse she is running for her ex-fiancé Giovanni, who is off at war, Angela flashes the lights in a certain pattern to signal to Joseph (still hiding as her secret deserter husband) that she loves him. It is just as cute as it sounds.
  • No!!! Joseph is leaving?! This is so sad!
  • Annnd…it just got worse. Angela tried to steal extra chocolate for Joseph to take on his journey of escape – but a rat bit her while she was doing it, & some passersby heard her yelp of pain, and – long story short – now everyone in the town is on a manhunt for the chocolate stealer, who they are convinced must be an enemy spy. Woof.
  • WHAT!!! We just found out that Joseph is not an American – he’s a German! Angela is not so pleased, at this moment.
  • Aw, poor kid. Tony (the owner of the chocolate) just informed Angela that her second brother (Mario) was killed in a submarine attack. This is really not her night – bit by a rat, found out that her husband is an enemy of her country, AND is given news of her little brother’s death (which she may have been partially responsible for, because the light from her lighthouse may have illuminated Mario’s boat enough for the submarine to nab it). Major bummer.
  • WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING, ANGELA?! She’d just gotten rid of the angry villager mob…but in a fit of grief-guilt, decided to come clean & betray darling Joseph the German.
  • What a shitty thing to do. She will FOR SURE regret this later.
  • And – right on cue – Joseph the Recently Captured jumps off a cliff to his death. This just got real depressing, real quick.
  • But hey! Good news! Turns out Angela was pregnant, so now she has an offspring!
  • “Don’t take her away from me! Tell Angela that her child is dead! She’s crazy! She’ll never know!” — Maria (Evelyn Dumo)

Uh, Maria…? You’re the fucking crazy one. It’s her own goddamn child! Chill the fuck out, man!

  • (Do we think Maria will try to steal the baby, now that Angela has it home? The current music says yes.)
  • Ha! Y’all should be impressed – Crazy Maria the Baby Thief’s entrance was almost instantaneous.
  • Stop talking to ducks, Angela! Your baby’s being thefted!
  • This poor girl. Hasn’t she been through enough?
  • …Giovanni?! Is that you?!

Hell yeah! Let’s get Angela’s baby back for her, shall we?

  • Oh, Jesus…now Maria is going to thieve the baby all the way to Genoa? Someone in this village better regain their long-abandoned common sense and stop her – otherwise I’m gonna be pissed.
  • Turns out this baby has mad sea karma. I wish Angela realized this before she burned down her house as a substitute for the broken lighthouse light…but, you know – whatever.
  • So…my thoughts on this film are tricky. I really liked the first portion of it, but the quarter dealing with Maria & the baby stealing got really tiresome. Great story, though – very well-crafted – and a truly great performance by Pickford.
  • Quote of Note:

“Chocolate will be all I dare carry. I can live on that for several days.” — Joseph

  • Ps: Fred Thomson died of tetanus (in 1928) after stepping on a rusty nail?! That’s insane!
  • Pps: According to Evelyn Dumo’s IMDb page, she never died & is currently 127 years old. How hilarious.

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