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Through the Back Door [DVD] [1921] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Mary Pickford , Owen Moore , James Kirkwood    DVD

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Region 1 encoding (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fine Mary Pickford vehicles 12 Oct 2007
By Matthew G. Sherwin - Published on
Through The Back Door is an exquisitely produced, well acted movie starring the immortal Mary Pickford. Mary gives a great performance as Jeanne, the cast aside daughter of a woman who remarries a selfish man who dislikes children. Look also for solid performances by Gertrude Astor as Louise Reeves, Jeanne's mother and Wilfred Lucas who plays Elton Reeves.

The action begins when little Jeanne's mother, Louise (Gertrude Astor), decides to marry a rather selfish and unfeeling rich man named Elton Reeves (Wilfred Lucas). Elton convinces Louise that to be happy they must live in America and leave Jeanne behind in Belgium with Jeanne's nursemaid, Marie (Helen Raymond). Louise dislikes it but eventually she agrees to leave little Jeanne behind in Marie's care.

Five years pass and when Louis comes to get Jeanne, Marie hatches a plan to keep Jeanne as her own. Jeanne and Marie have a strong bond and Marie couldn't bear to lose Jeanne. Marie lies to Louise and tells Louise that Jeanne drowned in a river and is dead. Louise greaves for her lost daughter and eventually the stress of it all takes a toll on Louise's marriage to the still selfish Elton.

Meanwhile, World War I breaks out and Marie feels forced to get Jeanne to safety in America with her birth mother. Marie and Jeanne have an emotional parting and Jeanne goes to America to find her mother. Along the way the kindly Jeanne picks up two orphaned boys stuck alongside the road; this helps to flesh out Jeanne's character as a good, motherly type of person.

Once Jeanne gets to America, she travels to her mother's estate but for some reason Jeanne can't bring herself to tell her mother that she is her lost daughter. Instead Jeanne settles for work as a maid at her mother's estate. This is the only flaw in the plot that I can see; but the rest of this movie is so well done I can forgive it.

Of course, the plot can still go anywhere from here. Will Jeanne like being a maid on her mother's estate? How will Jeanne ever get up the nerve to tell her mother who she really is? What about the boy next door--will their romance ever blossom despite the apparent differences in social class? What about the Brewsters--they pretend to be friends with Elton Reeves only to try to get their hands on his money--how will they ever be caught and revealed as the crooks that they are? Watch the movie and find out!

The choreography shines in the scene in which Jeanne cleans a dirty floor by strapping scrubbing brushes to her feet and skating around the floor; and the cinematography remains strong throughout the picture.

Overall, Through The Back Door is a marvelous and tender story starring Mary Pickford at her best. Look for great performances from Gertrude Astor as Jeanne's mother; and there's a fine performance from a rather young Adolphe Menjou as James Brewster, one two con artists who try to swindle money out of Elton Reeves.

The DVD has the wonderful bonus feature of a 52 minute film entitled Cinderella. The action begins without much character development; I agree with people who state that this could well mean that some footage is missing or lost. Many of the outdoor scenes are rather overexposed and the print shows its age. Nevertheless, the story is rather faithfully told in an elegant manner. I highly recommend this fine bonus for everyone.

Mary Pickford fans will be thrilled with the two movies on this DVD. This movie is also highly recommended for any fan of silent movies; and the bonus of Cinderella makes this an excellent double feature.

Great job, everyone!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable! 3 May 2005
By Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood - Published on
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet Double Feature 21 May 2006
By Samantha Glasser - Published on
Through the Back Door is a very sweet Mary Pickford film from 1921. It begins with a rich family; the mother of a little girl is planning to marry a wealthy man. He does not like the child, so she gives the little girl up to her maid who takes her in as her own. We see the little girl (Mary Pickford) as she gets older, about ten years old, doing all sorts of hilarious and cute things. She gets into trouble, but she has plenty of fun along the way. Later, her mother comes back to claim her, but the poor woman has grown so attached, she claims the little girl has died. Fate brings the two back together again. This is a great little melodrama and a perfect vehicle for Pickford.

1914's Cinderella is included as an extra feature. The way the story is delivered is very antiquated, but it gives it a nostalgic feeling. Mary plays Cinderella and her first husband, Owen Moore, plays the prince. The print is okay although it has a lot of scratches still, and the score is decent outside of the annoying periodic vocals. It is interesting how developed the technology of film was at this point in time; it uses double exposures and dissolves many times. This film is not one to watch constantly since everyone knows the story and it doesn't have anything extra-special to offer, but it is a nice curiosity to supplement the first film.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good Pickford film/s 16 Mar 2008
By Jeremy D Vosburgh - Published on
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Very good dvd. Includes Through the Back Door which is a classic Pickford film in which she plays a coming of age girl first at ~10 and then ~16 years of age. As usual, she is able to pull off the little girl bit very well. she really was quite an actress who chewed up the screen in every scene she was in. Amazing screen presence. The story itself was quite "modern" in its portrayal of casual adultery in a couples' life. Pickford adequately portrays the type of woman every woman would like to be; free and spirited. Perhaps this is why her movies appealed to both sexes. so few actresses today successfully have done this. And Pickford managed to do it in a time when women had still not attained equality (in fact not even vote!). I won't go into the story because it isn't important. Pickford made the film, not the story.

Cinderella is the other film (bonus) on the dvd. This one delights on two levels: Pickford (of course) and the story which was far more faithful to the Grimm tale than any of the modern pieces I have watched. Having said that, it was a bit antiquated in its portrayal of fairies and sets, but overall was a splendid work. Watch for the strikingly modern stop-action "nightmare" cinderella has after she goes to sleep after coming home after midnight!

If you're a thoughtful person who enjoys emotional justice, then you should buy this dvd. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming disc 10 Nov 2005
By Anyechka - Published on
The main attraction on this disc is 1921's 'Through the Back Door,' which follows Jeanne (Mary Pickford) through three parts of her life. First we see her as a small child with her mother, who has a suitor named Elton Reeves. Elton isn't the nicest guy, as he doesn't really want Jeanne around and, after successfully pressuring her mother into taking him as her second husband, makes it clear that they're going to America without Jeanne. Jeanne's mother isn't completely happy about this arrangement, but because she wants to obey her new husband, she leaves Jeanne in the care of her nanny Marie. About 5 years pass, and now Jeanne is quite happy living the life of a simple mischievous farm girl with her adoptive parents Marie and Jacques. Marie is incensed when she gets a letter from Jeanne's mother, saying she and Elton are coming for a visit and finally going to take Jeanne with them to their new home in America. They even have a whole new wardrobe for her to wear. However, since Marie has grown quite attached to the girl and is angry at her mother for leaving her and then never contacting them till now, she sends Jeanne out of the house when she knows the Reeveses will be stopping by. When they are there, she lies that Jeanne drownt in the river and the body was not recovered. However, this isn't the last we hear of Jeanne's mother and stepfather, as about five more years later WWI breaks out, and Marie decides to send Jeanne away from Belgium. She gives her a written confession the local priest witnessed, so she can give it to her mother in America as proof of her identity. On her way to leaving Belgium, Jeanne also adopts two young boys who have just been orphaned, and then they're all off to the Reeves mansion. The Reeveses no longer have the greatest marriage, and due to her duties as a maid, Jeanne's plans to break the news to her mother and to have a happy reunion have to be put on hold until the time seems right. The reality is different from the fantasy, though Jeanne keeps hoping things will turn out right for everyone in the end.

The other film on this disc is the 1914 version of 'Cinderella,' which really begins right in the middle of things (leading one to perhaps feel there might be some early footage missing), not really taking any time to develop characters or what's going on. The print also looks somewhat the worse for wear, and some aspects of it, such as certain costumes, look rather primitive, but to be fair, this is from 1914 after all. One can't expect most movies from 1914 to be in tip-top shape or to look as smooth and polished or to be as perfectly plotted as a film from even 10 or 20 years later. Leaving aside that, it is a pretty charming film, with a great soundtrack, and stars Mary Pickford's first husband, Owen Moore, as her leading man, the role he often filled onscreen in the early Teens.

Both of these films are fun, cute, and charming, and it's great such rare films are finally commercially available after remaining unseen for so long, but overall they're not quite what I would consider absolutely top-notch material.
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