Thanks to Milestone's wonderful efforts to restore many of Mary Pickford's films, a whole new generation is getting to know `America's Sweetheart' and understand why she earned this title. This great DVD has not one but two shining examples of Pickford's delightful acting style which captivated and charmed audiences in the 1910s and 1920s, and together with excellent musical scores, both films are a real pleasure to watch. Although Mary's role is quite typical in "Through the Back Door" as she plays first a 10-year-old and then a 16-year-old girl, the story of this film is particularly good and even quite suspenseful as we follow her adventures and attempts to re-unite with her mother. There are plenty of highlights, both in drama and comedy, as she plays a mischievous little girl on a farm, then as a young woman leaving war-torn Belgium to find her mother in New York. Suspense escalates when she is employed as a maid in her mother's wealthy home, and unsuccessfully attempts to tell her mother who she really is. Like most of Pickford's most popular films, "Through the Back Door" is essentially a heart-warming story about love and human relationships enduring hardships and finding happiness in the end, and while this film is no exception, I still found it particularly enjoyable to watch and rate it as one of my favourite Pickford films.
The second treat on this DVD is one of Mary's earliest feature films, "Cinderella", made in 1914, and although the picture quality is often rather faded and not as good as "Through the Back Door", the exceptionally beautiful musical accompaniment makes up for any visual shortcomings. Furthermore, the sets, characters and not in the least Mary's excellent portrayal of Cinderella also make this one-hour early feature film a delight to watch. The story is what you might expect, complete with very ugly sisters, a huge pumpkin that the fairy godmother turns into a fabulous carriage, and the glass slipper left behind as the clock chimes at midnight. But there are also a few extra scenes and moments that almost make the story feel real and much more than just a child's fairytale. The unusual musical score by Donald Sosin, a silent film composer of high repute, has touches of Baroque and other early music to enhance and add to the magical atmosphere of this lovely old film. "Through the Back Door" also has an excellent orchestral score, and both films together make this DVD rate 5 stars, in my opinion. Definitely a real treat for Pickford fans, and surely a pleasure for the general silent film enthusiast as well.